In a written statement, bishops’ conference spokesperson Chieko Noguchi said including faith groups was a matter of fairness. She also acknowledged lobbying by the conference, which she said, “regularly works with Congress and the administration on legislation and regulations of concern to the bishops, including the emergency relief that is being provided during the pandemic.”
With government money paying the salaries of priests and ministers, some legal experts see a troubling precedent given the separation of church and state called for in the Constitution.
Micah Schwartzman, a University of Virginia law professor specializing in constitutional issues and religion, said the treatment of faith groups goes beyond fairness by giving them preferential treatment. “That’s something we haven’t seen before,” he said. “That’s new.”
AP’s analysis found that the Archdiocese of New York, where Cardinal Timothy Dolan has helped lead the push for religious groups seeking federal aid, was a major beneficiary among Catholic organizations.
The New York Archdiocese received 15 loans worth at least $28 million just for its top executive offices. Its iconic St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue was approved for at least $1 million.
More rural dioceses also received loans valued at between $5 million and $10 million. They included the dioceses of Covington, Kentucky, and Knoxville, Tennessee.
— to qctimes.com