CNA Staff, Jul 15, 2020 / 17:01 pm
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York has written a response to an Associated Press report that characterized Catholic participation in the federal Paycheck Protection Program as an “aggressive pursuit of funds.”
The July 10 AP story, authored by Reese Dunklin and Michael Rezendes, “was so inaccurate, and left such a damaging impression I felt it was important to set the record straight with you,” the cardinal wrote in a message to his archdiocese.
He called the article “scurrilous” and “heavy on innuendo,” and added that “many news outlets picked up the story, which implied that there was something amiss in Catholic institutions receiving paycheck protection money.”
The PPP is a $669 billion initiative that allows entities to obtain low-interest loans that can be forgiven if the money goes mostly to cover payroll expenses, and to keep people employed who are in danger of losing their jobs.
Cardinal Dolan wrote that the PPP “was designed to help employers continue to pay its [sic] employees when the economy went into lockdown in response to the coronavirus,” so as to keep people employed.
“Religious institutions were invited and permitted to participate, as they employ large numbers of people across the country,” he added.
“Here in the Archdiocese of New York, if you combine the number of fulltime employees in our parishes, schools, agencies, and central administration, there would be 6000 fulltime and 4000 part-time employees. Without assistance from the PPP, many of our employers would have had no choice but to lay-off their employees, reducing the church’s ability to assist people in need, and forcing our people to seek unemployment.”
Without the reception of funds from the PPP, “your parish’s secretary, or the teachers in your child’s Catholic school, for instance, could easily have lost their jobs,” the cardinal wrote. “So, the money did not go to ‘the archdiocese’ but to our workers.”