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The United States economy is being battered and with it, Catholic parishes.
Owing to the Wuhan virus pandemic, about 95% of Americans are under mandatory stay-at-home orders from their state governments, leading to roughly three and a half million unemployment claims between March 15–21.
The following week, last week, those claims doubled to about six and a half million, leaving the total claims over the past two weeks at a whopping 10 million.
The New York Times is reporting the unemployment rate is currently around 13% — that's a 9.5% increase since February.
For reference, in 1930 the Great Depression's unemployment peaked at 25%, and that was after about one year of rapid incline, not one month.
With businesses closed and millions of Americans jobless, Catholic parishes are feeling the financial effects as well.
Diocese of Erie, Pennsylvania Bp. Lawrence Persico is suspending payments to victims of clerical sexual abuse, arguing the diocese is losing the value of its assets and investments, citing the Wuhan virus as the cause.
The archdiocese of Chicago is already reporting up to 75% drops in collections at some parishes, and is setting up an emergency fund to keep churches open.
Parishes are working tirelessly to set up or even increase electronic collections, but are meeting with limited success.
As waves of further unemployment are expected, and more and more Catholic parishioners hit hard financial times, along with many businesses, it might be the case that a good number of parishes will also be closed — permanently.
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