WHEELING – The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston has received nearly $ 2 million in loans from the Federal Paycheck Protection Program to help pay its administrative staff and all active priests working in West Virginia during the coronavirus pandemic.

The request was not unusual as many dioceses across the country, including those of Youngstown, Columbus and Pittsburgh, each received PPP loans between $ 2 million and $ 5 million when the program launched in April, according to the reports. public archives.

In total, Catholic dioceses in the United States have received approximately $ 1.4 billion in loans designed to keep small businesses and organizations afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wheeling-Charleston spokesman Tim Bishop said the diocese received $ 1.996 million in loans “After adjusting its initial application” who had initially asked for more. The loan will be used over the 24 week period provided for in the federal program to pay staff and priests.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the Diocese, which has responsibility for 112 parishes and 24 schools across West Virginia,” said the bishop. “Religious services in our parishes and mission churches have been suspended for months, severely limiting offerings and other gifts. Contributions from Catholic schools and operating revenues have also been hit hard during the pandemic.

Many Catholic schools, parishes and charities in the Northern Enclave have also received individual loans. They include:

* Catholic Charities in Wheeling – $ 1 million to $ 2 million

* Wheeling Central Catholic High School – $ 350,000 to $ 1 million

* St. Michael’s Church and School in Wheeling – $ 150,000 to $ 350,000

* Saint-Vincent-de-Paul Church in Wheeling – $ 150,000 to $ 350,000

* Madonna High School in Weirton – $ 150,000 to $ 350,000

* St. Joseph Parish Elementary School in Weirton – $ 150,000 to $ 350,000

* St. Paul Roman Catholic Church in Weirton – $ 150,000 to $ 350,000

* Parkersburg Catholic High School in Parkersburg – $ 150,000 to $ 350,000

Bishop said the diocese and its entities are following federal guidelines with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act and repayment of loans, some of which may be canceled under various circumstances.

“In accordance with the regulations set out in the CARES Act, the diocese is on the verge of spending all funding during the extended 24 week reporting period,” said the bishop. “The diocese is committed to respecting the rules of the CARES law, in particular with regard to the repayment and remission of loans. “

The diocese has been plagued by problems following a scandal involving former Bishop Michael Bransfield, who resigned his leadership post in September 2018 after being accused of embezzlement and sexual harassment of priests.

Bishop Mark Brennan, who has led the diocese since his assignment in this post last August, presented a series of “amended” for Bransfield to perform for him to leave the Roman Catholic Church in good standing. The fines, which included a plan to demand $ 792,638 in restitution from the former bishop, were announced on November 26, but there has been no movement on the matter.

Bishop, the spokesman for the diocese, said on Friday they were still waiting for the Vatican to approve Bransfield’s fines, which were delayed in part because of the coronavirus pandemic that crippled Italy this spring. Bransfield has the option of asking for changes to the fines, a decision that would ultimately be made by Pope Francis.

“The matter is now in the hands of the Holy See”, Bishop said of the Pope. “We, along with the faithful, await the word of the Holy See to help us all move forward on the path of healing for our diocese and its people. Updates will be communicated through the appropriate channels.

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