The Archdiocese of Santa Fe has filed a complaint against the U.S. Small Business Administration, saying the federal agency is illegally blocking it from applying for a low-interest loan from a program aimed at helping small businesses impacted by the novel coronavirus because the archdiocese is involved in a bankruptcy proceeding.

The complaint was filed Tuesday in the archdiocese’s pending Chapter 11 bankruptcy case in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

In it, the Catholic organization says the federal government specifically ruled nonprofit entities and those in bankruptcy are not ineligible to receive 1 percent interest loans from the Paycheck Protection Program, which is part of the more than $2 trillion federal relief package being dispersed to help steady the economy during the pandemic.

But the archdiocese says the form applicants must complete says applications from entities involved in bankruptcy proceedings will not be approved.

“The parishes derive a significant portion of their revenue from offertory,” the complaint says, “and a significant portion of the offertory collections occur during Holy Week which includes Easter Sunday Mass. Because the parishes have been closed … the Plaintiff is experiencing a significant decease in revenue and anticipates that for as long as the ‘stay at home’ order remains in effect, it will struggle to continue making payroll payments.”

Spokeswoman Celine Baca Radigan said in a written statement Friday that the COVID-19 pandemic significantly affects the archdiocese’s “mission to safeguard the sanctity of life and provide pastoral care” in its 93 parishes, 226 missions and 16 schools throughout the region.



The archdiocese is asking the court to rule that the Small Business Administration overstepped its authority when it determined entities going through bankruptcy weren’t eligible for the money and change the part of the form that keeps them from applying.

The petition acknowledges the Small Business Administration announced April 16 that the $349 billion set aside for the Paycheck Protection Program was already exhausted.

But it says “upon information and belief, Congress has reached a deal to allocate additional funds” to the program and the archdiocese wants to be able to apply for them.

The Small Business Administration did not respond to messages seeking comment for this story.

The archdiocese filed for bankruptcy in 2018 in the wake of clergy sex abuse lawsuits that began in the 1990s. According to news reports, the archdiocese claimed about $49 million in assets, including real estate, but not including assets the archdiocese said it holds for parishes.

(7) comments

BARRY SILVER

okay fellow parishioners, if there ever were a time to prostrate yourselves before the altar and pray for a miracle, this is it.

or, try the pope and the former papal eminence, both reachable in their respective palatial residences in italy.

as to a lay government bail out, it might have been possible if the carefully guarded privilege of separation of church and state had not been so vigorously and successfully defended for millennia. but, who knew?

one cannot simply cry '' no fair '' after so many years of shouting, '' don't touch us.''

but, it seems that where money is concerned, anything is possible.

Stefanie Beninato

Let's see the Catholic Church one of the most powerful institutions is going bankrupt. Why? Because of lawsuits for sexual abuse/harassment. Now that it does not have to pay its creditors in full, it wants what could be forgivable loans to yet subsidize its religious mission. The Church doesn't even pay property or gross receipts taxes. No way should the Catholic Church or any other church get federal money so it can continue its mission to proselytize nor should businesses in bankruptcy. The latter already are on the edge; this relief should go to viable businesses.

Ed Li

You don’t pay taxes, why should they be eligible for a government loan?!

Ann Maes

No representation without taxation - mend you ways, sinners!

paul pacheco

The Catholic church including the Archdiocese of Santa Fe will emerge out of the economic effects from this pandemic crisis stronger than ever! At a time when every organization including corporate and big business has their hand out to receive whatever they can instead of innovating, the old adage continues, “you can’t receive unless you ask!” The legal question is whether there is jurisdiction from a bankruptcy court over the SBA!

Mike Johnson

Didn't they voluntarily close everything down? That's their decision, live with it.

David Ford

This is a perfect example of the slow but steady encroachment by the Christian Nationalist Right Wing movement on their agenda to dissolving the separation of Church and State. The founding fathers knew all to well the incredible harm it and a theocracy could do to our republic, our institutions (including religion), our schools etc. This would be laughable if it weren't so sad and scary because they are serious with this request. Since man first invented gods and religion it has been big business and also a means to control the masses. This church in particular is responsible for its own financial well being (you know since it is big business) because of their systematic sexual abuse of the young children that were under their charge. This request should be completely denied. Want to learn more about the separation of Church and State? Go to FFRF.Org and join their fight to keep these two entities separate. It is the ONLY WALL we need.

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