The Knights of Columbus have offered a $1 million line of credit to Catholic dioceses to help dioceses and parishes suffering from the financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is critical for us to support the Catholic Church in the United States at this time, so that the Church can continue to provide irreplaceable spiritual and charitable support, and can keep the staff supporting its mission and outreach employed,” Knights of Columbus CEO Carl Anderson said March 26. “Our fund is designed specifically to help dioceses and their parishes weather this pandemic financially so that they can continue their important work – now and after the pandemic.”
The $100 million fund allows up to $1 million line of credit per Catholic diocese. The program will open March 30 and will be available for 60 days following.
The Knights of Columbus say the interest rate is “very competitive,” equal to the rate of a one-year Treasury bill plus 2.25%.
The line of credit will have a two-year term. At the end of the term, dioceses may convert the line of credit into a Knights of Columbus church loan fully amortized at the prevailing rate for a five, 10 or 20 year period.
These are the same terms offered by the Knights of Columbus' present ChurchLoan program
“The Knights of Columbus has been a key lender to parishes and dioceses for more than a century, and the ChurchLoan program remains a key source of financing for Catholic parishes and institutions,” the Knights of Columbus said.
The Knights of Columbus is a Catholic fraternal organization with nearly 2 million members in more than 15,000 local councils worldwide. Its members worked 76 million service hours in 2019 and helped donate more than $185 million in charitable causes.
Its life insurance branch claims about $109 billion life insurance in force. The insurance program helps fund the knights' charitable work and other efforts to support the Catholic Church.
The Knights have many grassroots initiatives responding to the needs of the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization has asked members to help provide food and other essentials to those in need. It has also urged members to take part in blood drives. The Knights of Columbus helped pioneer nationwide blood drives in the 1930s.
With churches closed to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, parishes face dwindling cash flow from collections. It is doubtful whether churches will open for the crowds who typically attend Mass on Easter, as some models project the virus will peak at the time.
Some parishes and dioceses have tried to expand online giving. Catholic charitable outreach also faces shortages of funds at a time of great need.
At the same time, the coronavirus has prompted massive layoffs. About 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment and the unemployment rate could have already risen to 5.5%, the highest since 2015, the Washington Post reports.