The news is out: [The U.S. Roman Catholic Church successfully lobbied government officials to make an exception from federal rules to include the church in the Paycheck Protection Program, despite not meeting specific requirements. Because of this exemption, at least $1.4 billion in taxpayer-backed coronavirus aid has been awarded to the church. And, there is reason to believe that the total payout may have exceeded $3.5 billion, making the global religious institution one of the biggest recipients in the U.S. government’s pandemic relief efforts.
According to an analysis of federal data conducted by the Associated Press, millions of dollars are “going to dioceses that have paid huge settlements or sought bankruptcy protection because of clergy sexual abuse cover-ups.” Data shows that the majority of the church’s money was approved during the loan program’s first two weeks. However, in that same time, many local businesses were unable to receive loans from the initial $349 billion funding to the program because it was first-come, first-served. In total, nearly 500 loans exceeding $1 million each were approved for Catholic entities. At least eight reached the maximum payout range of $5-10 million. Among the listed recipients are the offices of bishops, major churches, headquarters of leading religious orders, schools, and chapters of catholic charities.
Faith-based organizations that promote religious beliefs aren’t usually eligible for money from the U.S. Small Business Administration, reports the Boston Globe. When the coronavirus hit and millions became unemployed, Congress made an exception to let faith groups and other nonprofits apply for the Paycheck Protection Program under the same parameters as other businesses. The PPP’s 500-employee cap qualification for applicants would have otherwise meant that many Catholic dioceses would have been ineligible; however, religious groups reportedly lobbied the Trump administration for an exception.]
You can always count on God to show up for free money.