The Roman Catholic Church in the United States has received at least $1.4 billion in taxpayer-funded PPP loans

TOP LINE

The Roman Catholic Church in the United States has reportedly received at least $1.4 billion (and possibly more than $3.5 billion) in federal funds through the Paycheck Protection Program, hundreds of millions going to dioceses that have paid massive settlements or filed for bankruptcy protection due to sexual abuse claims. , according to the Associated Press analysis.

HIGHLIGHTS

Faith-based organizations are generally prohibited from lobbying for federal funds distributed by the US Small Business Administration.

However, Congress has allowed churches and other nonprofits to apply for loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, so long as they follow the SBA’s “affiliation rule,” which states that only entities with less than 500 employees are eligible.

Many parishes exceed the 500-person cap, but an organized lobbying effort by the Catholic Church led the Trump administration to exempt religious groups from that particular rule, the AP reported.

Extensive use of this loophole, which the AP called a “special and unprecedented exemption,” has resulted in the approval of at least 3,500 forgivable loans for dioceses, parishes and Catholic schools.

After facing significant pressure from Democratic lawmakers in conjunction with lawsuits from various news outlets, the federal government this week released comprehensive data on entities that have received PPP loans.

According to the AP analysis of the data, around $200 million was sent to about 40 dioceses that have disbursed massive sums to victims of sexual abuse in recent years.

Key context:

The Associated Press was able to confirm that the Roman Catholic had raised between $1.4 billion and $3.5 billion. However, analysts believe the actual amount to be much higher. The report said the Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference, an organization of Catholic financial officers, surveyed its members and found that approximately 9,000 Catholic entities had received loans. That amount is nearly three times the number of Catholic recipients the AP could identify since the government’s PPP data dump did not include the names of recipients who received loans under $150,000 (a category in which many small churches would land). SBA data revealed that 86.5% of all PPP loans were below $150,000. Loans will be canceled if used for salaries, rent or utilities.

Tangent:

The Archdiocese of New York has received 15 loans worth at least $28 million just for its main executive offices. In 2016, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York created a victim compensation fund and in less than two years it reportedly paid nearly $60 million to 278 victims. In 2019, dioceses and religious orders across the country paid more than $280 million to approximately 4,500 victims of abuse.

Critical quote:

“I know some people may react with surprise that government funding has helped support faith-based schools, parishes and dioceses,” said Bishop Lawrence Persico of Erie, Pennsylvania. “The separation of church and state does not mean that those who are motivated by their faith have no place in the public square.

Large number :

4.9 million: This is the number of PPP loans that have been approved so far, according to the Small Business Administration.

Disclosure: Forbes Media LLC confirmed on July 6, 2020 that it received a Paycheck Protection Program loan of $5-10 million on April 15.

Further reading:

The Catholic Church lobbied for taxpayers’ money and won $1.4 billion (AP)

Here’s what was inside the government’s massive PPP data dump (Forbes)

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