FFRF condemns Catholic lobbying for billions

Don Addis cartoon

The Roman Catholic Church, including many of its dioceses involved in clergy sexual abuse cover-ups, has appeared to rake in the biggest haul of taxpayer COVID-19 relief money going to religious institutions — possibly exceeding $3.5 billion, according to a shocking analysis by the Associated Press.

“By aggressively promoting the payroll program and marshaling resources to help affiliates navigate its shifting rules, Catholic dioceses, parishes, schools and other ministries have so far received approval for at least 3,500 forgivable loans,” AP reported on July 10.

The Catholic Church successfully lobbied to be exempted from a Small Business Administration rule disqualifying Paycheck Protection Program applicants with more than 500 workers.

Nearly 500 loans approved to Catholic entities exceeded $1 million, and at least eight were between $5 million and $10 million. Loan recipients of about $200 million included some 40 dioceses that have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the past few years paying victims through compensation funds or bankruptcy proceedings, AP reports. The Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference has reported that about 9,000 Catholic entities received loans, nearly three times the number of Catholic beneficiaries that AP could identify, making AP’s estimate that $1.4 billion to $3.5 billion in public funds have gone to Catholic entities an undercount.

AP reports that in late April several hundred Catholic leaders urged President Trump during a conference call to give even more funds after thousands of Catholic institutions had already secured loans. During the call, Trump engaged in electioneering and boasted that he was the “best [president] the Catholic Church has even seen.”

This grotesque governmental favoritism toward religion — the complicity with religious demands that the rules do not apply to them — is as egregious as the raid of taxpayer funds. The “deadly sin” is that our nation’s wall of separation between religion and government has been breached, to pad the coffers of one of the world’s wealthiest and most corrupt religions.