Catholic Officials in Guam Sue After being Denied PPP Loan
Once again, Catholic officials are suing the government over the payroll protection plan (PPP) loan program. We suggest that, rather than sue the government, these church leaders should offer some creative incentives that would help protect the vulnerable in exchange for being considered for funding.
The Archdiocese of Agana in Guam is suing the Small Business Administration after being denied a loan. We suggest that, in order to increase their viability to receive such a loan, that they should take several immediate steps.
First, they should voluntarily extend the current bankruptcy reporting window in order to encourage more victims of clergy sexual abuse in Guam to come forward, identify bad actors, and prevent future cases of abuse.
Second, they should stipulate in their loan application that not one cent will be paid to any clergy or church staffer who has faced allegations of sexual abuse. For example, it has been reported that the ex-archbishop of the archdiocese, Anthony Apuron, who was found guilty by the Vatican of sex crimes against children, has been receiving a monthly stipend of $1,500 from the Church. If the Archdiocese of Agana wants to receive a PPP loan, they should be pulling out the stops to ensure that the money goes to staffers in good standing and not abusers like Archbishop Apuron.
Finally, the Archdiocese must commit to establishing a future victims’ compensation fund in an amount sufficient to pay out $5 million over time to additional victims of abuse. This is a critical step that will ensure survivors who have not yet come forward will have the ability to receive compensation for their pain and suffering. The average age of a survivor coming forward is 52, so we are sure that there are many victims within the Archdiocese who will not be ready to come forward while the current bankruptcy proceedings are ongoing.
For years, Catholic officials have used bankruptcy filings to protect their secrets, prevent justice and thwart healing. These disingenuous actions help keep information about abusers and their enablers hidden, endangering children both today and into the future. We hope that the government will not cave to this lawsuit, but if a lifeline is provided then we believe the federal government should attach conditions like those suggested above.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)