NEW HAVEN, Connecticut — The Knights of Columbus announced a new program March 27 to assist U.S. dioceses with short-term financing to help them and their parishes “weather the financial impact of the 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,” Carl Anderson, CEO of the Knights of Columbus, said in a statement.

The Knights has established a $100 million fund, with up to a $1 million secured line of credit per Catholic diocese. The program will be available for 60 days beginning March 30.

“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,” Anderson said.

According to a Knights news release, the lines of credit for dioceses “will have a very competitive interest rate equivalent to that of the one-year Treasury bill, plus 225 basis points (2.25%).”

“The line of credit has a two-year term,” the release said. “At the end of that term, dioceses will have the option to convert the line of credit to a Knights of Columbus church loan, fully amortizing at the prevailing rate for a term selected by the borrower of five, 10 or 20 years — the same low-interest terms offered by the Knights’ existing and long-standing ChurchLoan program.”

The Knights of Columbus said it 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 fraternal organization’s other responses to needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic include urging its members through their local and state councils to help supply food and other essentials to people in their parishes and the wider community and to participate in blood drives.

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