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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