The Archdiocese of Los Angeles received $ 80 million in taxpayer-funded PPP loans in COVID-19, despite the Catholic Church having $ 10 billion in cash

When Congress passed the Paycheck Protection Program last year, it was designed to keep small businesses or nonprofits with fewer than 500 employees afloat. But an Associated Press investigation found that the Roman Catholic Church, through its various parishes and entities, had received more than $ 3 billion in P3 funding when it already held more than $ 10 billion in cash. and short-term investments.

This makes the church one of the biggest beneficiaries of the taxpayer-backed program, sparking outrage even within its own ranks.

“I don’t think in any way that the Catholic Church is a small business,” Fr. James Connell, a Catholic priest and former accountant, told The Associated Press. “The Catholic Church is not a collection of small businesses. Each of the parishes, individual, local, is not an autonomous entity.”

RELATED | Investigation: Catholic Church had $ 10 billion in cash before raising billions in taxpayer-funded PPP loans

In Southern California, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the country’s largest in terms of population, has raised at least $ 80 million in P3 funds. At the time, he had $ 658 million in his coffers.

“They weren’t in a position to need that kind of emergency relief,” said Zach Hiner, executive director of SNAP, the network of survivors of those abused by priests. “But I guarantee you there were parishioners within the Archdiocese of Los Angeles who are parishioners whose businesses are not receiving funding because of it.”

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles says the pandemic has hit its parishes, schools and other entities hard.

“The funds from the loan were used by those who went to charity through the church to keep food on the table and to meet needs – keeping the water running, the lights on, Internet connected and housing intact “, he added. the archdiocese said in a written statement.

But critics say the Catholic Church should do what companies like Shake Shack and Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse have done after receiving millions in P3 funds: give it back.

WATCH: Shake Shack says he will pay off $ 10million PPP loan

“All of these funds, PPP funds, should be returned to the federal government for the federal government to retire afterwards,” the father said. Connel. “And send them to real small businesses across the country that need help.”

Meanwhile, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange has received over $ 24 million in PPP funds. Its latest annual report showed the diocese started 2020 with total assets of $ 72 million.

In a written statement, a spokesperson for the Diocese of Orange told Eyewitness News: “The money received from these loans was only used as intended: to keep people working and to prevent activities from occurring. criticisms are interrupted throughout the diocese, including the teaching of children. and provide important support services. ”

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