Drama continues after Home chaplain rescinds resignation letter requested by Ryan

Hugh Fox
May 8, 2018

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) reinstated the Rev. Patrick J. Conroy as the House of Representatives chaplain on Thursday, after the Conroy sent him a letter rescinding his forced resignation and daring the speaker to fire him, according to The New York Times.

On Thursday, Conroy rescinded his resignation in a letter claiming that Ryan's chief of staff Jonathon Burks had given him completely different reasons, including that he was too political and that it was time for a non-Catholic chaplain. "My unique choice was made in what I believed to be the most effective curiosity of this establishment". He said his original decision was based on his "duty to ensure that the House has the kind of pastoral services that it deserves", but did not elaborate.

"It is my job as speaker to do what is best for this body, and I know that this body is not well served by a protracted fight over such an important position", Ryan said. "I inquired as to whether or not it was 'for cause, ' and Mr. Burks mentioned dismissively something like, 'maybe it's time that we had a Chaplain that wasn't a Catholic'".

After Conroy resigned in April, he told the press that Ryan told him to "stay out of politics" after he prayed for balanced benefits and equality on the House floor as the chamber debated tax reform.

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The decision capped a highly unusual dispute between the Catholic speaker, who announced last month that he would retire so he could spend time with his teenage children, and a Jesuit priest who has spent seven years serving as the spiritual adviser to 435 lawmakers and thousands of congressional staff.

Ryan and Conroy are slated to meet early in the week.

Burks disputed this telling of events, saying in a statement, "I strongly disagree with Father Conroy's recollection of our conversation".

The drama over the chaplain's place started on April 15, when Conroy submitted a letter saying that as Ryan requested, he could be leaving his place on the finish of Could. Conroy also invited a Muslim cleric a year ago to give the opening prayer, a move that Democrats say may have upset GOP conservatives.

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The chaplain is elected by the full House and Democrats said Ryan does not have the power to fire him.

Conroy says he asked Burks if that was the cause of Ryan's disapproval. "My problem is I was never told that that was the case".

Father Conroy's letter was certain to stoke the anger.

Ryan received significant resistance from both parties over the move, including a letter from 148 House members.

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However the Pelosi aide stated that whereas she had been within the loop in regards to the choice, she "made it clear to the Speaker that she had exclusively obtained constructive feedback about Father Conroy's service from Members", and "additionally made it clear to Speaker Ryan that she disagreed with this choice". "Nonetheless, many distressing questions should nonetheless be answered in regards to the motivations behind Father Conroy's unwarranted and unjust dismissal".

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