AP: After lobbying, Catholic Church won $1.4B in virus aid

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FILE – In this Sunday, April 12, 2020 file photo, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, right, delivers his homily over mostly empty pews as he leads an Easter Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. Due to coronavirus concerns, no congregants were allowed to attend the Mass which was broadcast live on local TV. The New York archdiocese received at least four large Paycheck Protection Program loans, one worth at least $5 million. The beneficiaries included the archdiocesan department of education and the neo-gothic St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

NEW YORK (AP) — An Associated Press analysis of federal data has found that the U.S. Roman Catholic Church and affiliated groups received federal aid worth at least $1.4 billion under the federal Paycheck Protection Program.

The program was intended to help small businesses and nonprofits pay workers amid a cratering economy. The church was able to maximize its take after lobbying for an exemption that gave all religious groups preferential treatment.

Faith leaders persuaded the Trump administration to free them from a rule that typically disqualifies an applicant with more than 500 workers. Without this break, many Catholic dioceses would have been ineligible for the paycheck program’s forgivable loans.

That helped make the Catholic Church among the biggest winners in the U.S. government’s pandemic relief efforts.

Tens of millions of dollars went to dioceses whose financial stress was due not simply to the pandemic, but also to huge financial settlements to victims of clergy sex abuse.

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