Published: Fri, May 04, 2018
Global Media | By Derrick Guzman

Ryan says House chaplain will stay in job

Ryan says House chaplain will stay in job

Conroy has served since 2011 as the House chaplain, a position that is filled by election every two years.

An ongoing Capitol drama over the fate of the House chaplain ended as quickly as it had escalated on Thursday, with Rev. Patrick Conroy rescinding his resignation and Speaker Paul Ryan accepting his decision.

In his Thursday letter, Conroy said since writing a letter of resignation, "there has been much said in conjecture" regarding his departure that's "harmful" to the House and the chaplain's office.

In a letter to the Wisconsin Republican, Conroy wrote, in effect, that Ryan or the House would need to fire him if the intent is to have him leave before his current term ends at the end of this Congress. "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'".

Conroy made a decision to fight Ryan's move to oust him - telling the Republican leader on Thursday he wanted to retract the resignation letter he submitted at Ryan's direction last month.

Conroy's resignation sparked an uproar last week when it became known that he was asked to quit. Whatever the case, the abrupt change upset Catholics in the House and created a mini-firestorm. In his letter to Ryan on Thursday, the priest said he meant to serve out his current two-year term and possibly "beyond", unless he is officially terminated or not re-elected.

Conroy's resignation letter said he was offering to step down at Ryan's request, calling his seven years of House service "one of the great privileges of my life". Some Democrats speculated (an impression Conroy reinforced) that a "political" prayer that might have been construed as disrespecting that great golden calf of tax cuts had gotten him cashiered. "May their efforts these days guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans". Now that news of the firing has gone public, Speaker Ryan has backed down and told Conroy that he can stay on through the remainder of his term.

Late last month, Conroy told the Times he believed that prayer, though Ryan never said as much to him, was the reason he was pressured to resign. The chaplain, who had meant to resign May 24, believes there was no just cause for him to be ousted from the position. "To be clear, that decision was based on my duty to ensure that the House has the kind of pastoral services that it deserves".

"The letter is a bombshell, inside that bombshell are explosive items like Ryan's chief of staff actually said to him maybe it's a time for a non Catholic chaplain - for Catholics that is a profoundly offensive comment", Connolly told CNN in a phone interview.

According to a separate report last week in the Hill, Rep. Mark Walker, North Carolina Republican, had said the next chaplain should be someone with a family - which would exclude Catholic priests and nuns, who take vows of celibacy.

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