Letter: No special exemption for Catholic churches

Altoona Mirror

July 23, 2020

By Msgr. Michael A. Becker

A recent Associated Press article in the Mirror headlined an undocumented claim that there was a linking of coronavirus paycheck protection assistance to payouts for clergy sex abuse by Catholic dioceses.

That our own local diocese did receive assistance from the Paycheck Protection Program is true.

In fact, the Catholic Church in this country has received between $1.4 billion and $3.5 billion in federal funds under the Paycheck Protection Program, the federal initiative designed to mitigate the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ordinarily, businesses that employ more than 500 people and all faith-based organizations are not eligible for federal small business loans.

In this instance, however, Congress and the Trump administration waived those rules. The unspoken premise of the AP claim is that the church may have been undeserving of paycheck protection funds because it had settled lawsuits.

In reality, however, there was no special exemption for Catholic churches. All religious groups were similarly exempted.

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