A federal prosecutor in Pennsylvania investigating priest-abuse complaints has asked a national bishops group and Roman Catholic dioceses across the U.S. to preserve their files related to sexual abuse complaints.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops confirms it received the letter from U.S. Attorney William McSwain this month and forwarded it to member dioceses at his request.
The group's general counsel, Anthony Picarello, says in a statement Friday that the conference distributed the letter "in the spirit of cooperation with law enforcement."
The letter is dated Oct. 9, the same day McSwain sent criminal grand jury subpoenas asking dioceses in Pennsylvania to turn over their sex-abuse files dating back to 2001.
The other U.S. dioceses are being asked not to destroy files, but they don't yet have to turn them over.