As struggling small companies around the country seek much-needed loans from the government Paycheck Protection Program, reports of major national chains obtaining millions of dollars caused outrage among others who have been blocked out. Bridge Payday noted that many people will be startled to find that between 12,000 and 13,000 of America’s 17,000 Catholic churches sought for the coveted PPP loans.
Churches are small companies
While most people do not consider Catholic churches to be small companies, they, like their connected institutions, are attempting to keep personnel on their payrolls.
According to a new investigation, the Catholic Church received at least $1.4 billion in taxpayer-backed loans to help small companies survive the coronavirus outbreak.
As the epidemic disrupted worship services around the country, Catholic dioceses, parishes, schools, and other groups took advantage of a loophole in the federal Paycheck Protection Program to nab at least 3,500 forgiving loans, according to an Associated Press investigation.
Helping victims of abuse
According to the report, $200 million was distributed to roughly 40 dioceses that have paid out hundreds of millions of dollars to victims of sexual abuse in recent years. The Archdiocese of New York received at least $28 million for its executive offices and at least $1 million for its iconic St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Businesses and NGOs with less than 500 employees were normally eligible for the so-called PPP loans. However, according to the Associated Press, Catholic officials helped lobby the administration to exempt religious groups from the law, which would have disqualified many dioceses.
According to data revealed this week, Catholic organizations may have received up to $3.5 billion in forgiven loans, which allowed them to keep at least 407,900 employment, making the church one of the program’s biggest benefactors, according to the news service.
However, the number is likely far higher. The Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference estimated that 9,000 religious institutions received PPP funds, almost three times the number revealed in federal statistics by the Associated Press, which did not identify applicants who received loans worth less than $150,000.
In a statement to the Associated Press, Chieko Noguchi, a spokesperson for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, said, “These loans are a crucial lifeline to enable faith-based organizations stay afloat and continue serving those in need during this crisis.”