San Antonio Archdiocese and Catholic Charities Get Huge Payments Intended for Covid-19 relief for Small Businesses

The Catholic Church lobbied for 1.4 billion dollars of taxpayer money that was intended for Covid-19 relief for small businesses. The San Antonio Archdiocese and the San Antonio Catholic Charities each received these Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds in the “1-2 million-dollar range.” In addition, “Gustavo Garcia-Siller Archbishop of San Antonio and his successors in office,” is listed three times as receiving funds in the range of 150,000 to 350,000 from the Small Business Administration. These statistics are easily found through ProPublica’s search tool.

The Texas Tribune and Propublica reported in June that companies are eligible for these US Treasury Department forgivable loans if they have no other access to capital funding. Several large corporations received PPP funding, and due to a backlash from the public, returned the money to the government.

 SNAP is calling for the public to take a closer look at both the San Antonio Archdiocese and the San Antonio Catholic Charities. The Archdiocese, as of June 16, 2020, surpassed its 60 million-dollar goal in pledges from its 3-year ANDALE capital campaign and has collected 39 million dollars to date. With the PPP funds, the church has received an additional 2 to 4 million dollars from taxpayers, when they clearly have access to more funds from the capital campaign.

We believe the Archdiocese has a responsibility to its faithful (and to taxpayers) to shift from pricey new building projects to pandemic survival mode. It should be maintaining staff jobs and keeping its current programs strong, especially with so many losing their jobs and incomes.  Why ask for funds meant for small, struggling businesses, when the ANDALE campaign money could be used? Why focus on building, when so many parishioners are out of work, and current ministries are struggling due to the pandemic?

SNAP San Antonio, a group of survivors of clergy abuse, would like the public to know that the same Catholic Church that is taking our hard-earned money cannot do simple tasks that victims  request, like update its accused clergy list, provide the current address of an accused perpetrator awaiting laicization, or release documents that would help survivors find other victims of their alleged abuser.  Instead, they spend inordinate amounts of time and money lobbying  for money intended for small businesses and against legislation that benefits victims of child sex abuse.

A year ago, the San Antonio Catholic Charities was found to have issues with managing its donor funds under CEO Antonio Fernandez, when KSAT 12 Defenders Investigation team was given a leaked audit report from November 2018. Mr. Fernandez spoke to the Catholic News Service (CNS) in August 2020 about the increased services needed due to Covid-19 but, to date, his agency’s website provides no budget information. Even more concerning, another KSAT Defenders report last year revealed that at least 50 “paid volunteers” in the foster grandparent program with special needs children were lacking background check documentation. The audit report required the agency to re-do the background checks. It is astounding that agencies—and now, the US Treasury Department-- are still donating money to a program that did not follow basic accounting principles and has not shown accountability in protecting the children served by its programs.

Lack of accountability has always been a problem with the Catholic Church as survivors of clergy abuse have seen. After all we have learned with its released clergy list-- the betrayal of trust, the transfer of known offenders over decades--why is the Church still allowed to govern itself in matters of the law and money?

It is time for lay Catholics and the public to stand up to the Catholic Church. Stop giving money to the big machine that feels entitled to take from the little guy. Stop donating to a charity that shows little regard for funding accountability and the safety of our community’s children.

Survivors can contact Patti Koo at snappkoo@gmail.com or 956-648-7385 for support or information on local support group virtual meetings.

CONTACT: Patti Koo, SNAP San Antonio (snappkoo@gmail.com 956-648-7385),  Eduardo Lopez De Casa, SNAP Houston (eduarturo_c@yahoo.com  832-641-6319), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (zhiner@snapnetwork.org, 517-974-9009)

SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional setting for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)


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