Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson is requesting 40 years of records from the Omaha Archdiocese.

The archdiocese wants the attorney general’s office to further define the scope of his request.

“We welcome accountability in our community,” said Archbishop George J. Lucas. “The truth is good for everyone. I see this as a real moment of grace.”

Lucas received Attorney General Doug Peterson’s request in the mail on Tuesday. Peterson is asking for records that go back to Jan. 1, 1978.

The archdiocese has had published policies for the handling of reports of sexual abuse since 2003.

The archdiocese says it annually passes an audit by an independent auditing firm retained by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for compliance with the Charter of the Protection of Young People.

The audit evaluated the archdiocese’s efforts to satisfy requirements relating to effective reporting and responses to allegations of sexual abuse; promoting healing and reconciliation with survivors and those harmed by clergy sexual abuse; ensuring that archdiocesan and religious priests, deacons, educators, volunteers and other personnel are properly screened through background evaluations; and the archdiocese’s efforts to conduct safe environment training for children and adults who work with children.

“We have worked collaboratively with our law enforcement officials,” Lucas said. “We also welcome any suggested improvements that would be helpful in making our safe environment program more effective.”

After the approval of the Charter in 2002, the Archdiocese of Omaha created a child protection office in 2003. The archdiocese’s training curriculum developed by staff and area experts is currently being used in 41 U.S. dioceses.

Tim Lennon said he was raped and abused by a Catholic priest at age 12 in Iowa. He now leads the national survivors network for those abused by priests.

Lennon said these investigations should never be handled by the church.

“We’ve seen from Pennsylvania and other grand juries that we cannot rely on the church authorities for the truth that they’ve been historically covering up,” Lennon said.

A Pennsylvania grand jury found more than 300 priests had sexually abused children for decades. Similar to the case of Daniel Herek, a former Omaha priest convicted of molesting an altar boy in the 1990’s. After his arrest, there were allegations of improper conduct with children dating back to the 1970’s.

The request from Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson seeks church records from across Nebraska.

Peterson wants to see any claims of sexual exploitation, cases of child pornography, and any sexual communication by someone in a position of authority within the church.

The Archdiocese was not available for an interview, but in a statement, Archbishop George Lucas welcomed accountability and said “the truth is good for everyone. I see this as a real moment of grace.”

It will produce records for Douglas County attorney Don Kleine’s office to review.

“Hopefully we’ve already seen everything that they have, But, if there’s something else that they find that we haven’t seen it’s the archdiocese responsibility to get that to us so we can take a look at it,” Kleine said.

Anyone concerned about the actions of a member of the clergy or any church worker should contact law enforcement or the archdiocese’s manager of victim outreach and prevention at 402-827-3798.