Cardinal Timothy Dolan has argued that the Catholic Church needs to be included in future federal aid packages to prevent further Catholic school closures.
After announcing twenty more Catholic school closures in his New York Archdiocese, Cardinal Dolan appealed for Congress to step in before the crisis worsens.
In a letter to lay faithful on Monday, he wrote: “If Congress does not provide assistance to our schools within the next few weeks before the school year opens, many parents may find themselves unable to meet even our modest tuition costs, and we will be forced to write you again announcing yet more school closures.”
Dolan urged families to contact their elected officials about the need to include Catholic schools in the upcoming HEROES Act stimulus bill.
“Congress is working on another bill to provide relief from the Covid crisis for critical parts of our economy and society such as our schools,” he noted. “Catholic and other non-government schools must be included in that relief.”
Catholic schools in the United States recently received pandemic-related federal aid through the CARES Act, with loans provided by the Paycheck Protection Program and with restricted access to the stimulus bill’s school funding provision. The House of Representatives’ subsequently passed a $3 trillion dollar HEROES Act which rescinded the previous support for Catholic schools.
A recent report by the Associated Press claimed that the US Catholic Church had undertaken an “aggressive pursuit” of CARES Act funding in order to “amass at least $1.4 billion in taxpayer-backed coronavirus aid”.
Cardinal Dolan later described it as a “scurrilous article”, which “focuses solely on the Catholic Church”, despite the fact that “religious organizations representing all faiths participated in the program”.
Speaking to CBSN on Monday, Dolan repeated his defence of the Church’s use of federal funds. “That money didn’t go to the ‘mean old Archdiocese’,” he said. “That money went to our workers in soup kitchens, our workers in parishes, our teachers, our kids to make sure that they could stay in there. I don’t have that money in my desk drawer. That’s all spent the way it was intended to be spent.”
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