The Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte received over $8 million dollars in Small Business pandemic relief, despite sitting on over $100 million of their own cash and short-term investments available last spring.
Though the pandemic forced many places of worship to close, including the church, the overreaching diocese banked an additional $10 million by the following quarter. According to a report conducted by the Associated Press, Catholic dioceses across the United States received relief through the Paycheck Protection Program while maintaining over $10 billion in cash, short-term investments or other available funds.
Catholic diocese received at least $3 billion making the Roman Catholic Church one of the biggest beneficiaries of the paycheck program. Catholic church officials have said that without PPP loans they would have had to slash jobs and curtail their charitable mission as demand for food pantries and social services spiked. They have also pointed to the program’s rules, stating that it wasn’t a requirement to have exhausted their stores of cash and other funds before applying.
The AP investigation also found that by “using a special exemption that the church lobbied to include in the paycheck program, Catholic entities amassed at least $3 billion–roughly the same as the combined total of recipients from the other faiths that rounded out the top five. Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Jewish faith-based recipients also totaled at least $3 billion”
The church itself has come out questioning why the AP would investigate a faith based organization, however, the AP assessment of the church’s finances are the “most comprehensive to date,” and they have consulted with experts on church finance and church law, such as Rev. James Connell.
Connell is a retired archdiocese canon law attorney and stated he was not convinced the church needed government aid, especially in light of other non-profits receiving much less and small businesses were closing all across the country.
“Was it want or need?” Connell asked. “Need must be present, not simply the want. Justice and love of neighbor must include the common good.”