AP: After lobbying, Catholic Church won $1.4B in virus aid

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FILE – In this Sunday, April 12, 2020 file photo, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, right, delivers his homily over mostly empty pews as he leads an Easter Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. Due to coronavirus concerns, no congregants were allowed to attend the Mass which was broadcast live on local TV. The New York archdiocese received at least four large Paycheck Protection Program loans, one worth at least $5 million. The beneficiaries included the archdiocesan department of education and the neo-gothic St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. Roman Catholic Church used a special and unprecedented exemption from federal rules to amass at least $1.4 billion in taxpayer-backed coronavirus aid.

In totaling the church’s haul, The Associated Press also found tens of millions of dollars went to dioceses whose financial stress was due not simply to the pandemic but also to recent payouts to victims of clergy sex abuse.

The Paycheck Protection Program the church tapped was intended to help small businesses and nonprofits pay workers amid a cratering economy.

The church maximized its take after lobbying for an exemption that gave all religious groups preferential treatment. That helped make the Catholic Church among the biggest winners in the U.S. government’s pandemic relief efforts.

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