Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Ryan disputes assertions he fired House chaplain over prayer

UNITED STATES- APRIL 11 Rev. Patrick Conroy Chaplain of the House attends the 2013 National Days of Remembrance ceremony in the Capitol rotunda to honor the victims of the Holocaust Tom Williams CQ-Roll Call Group
Michele Schwartz | 29 April, 2018, 01:15

Joe Crowley introduced the resolution to create a special committee to look into Ryan's "motivations and actions" when he suddenly asked House Chaplain Patrick Conroy to resign.

Conroy, in The New York Times, expressed bafflement at the situation but hinted that politics did play a role and pointed to his November prayer as a possible explanation.

Another Republican member, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Ryan said he's gotten feedback from numerous members over the a year ago or so that they'd like a more active spiritual adviser who is more engaged with members and more approachable.

'I'm not aware of any discontent or any criticism and to be the first House Chaplain to be removed in the history of the Congress in the middle of a term raises serious questions.

Conroy "was responsive to me and my sons after the shooting previous year", said Rep. Joe Barton, whose sons were present during the shooting in Virginia. He has served in the post since 2011 when former Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner nominated him.

Vanity Fair quipped that the prayer amounted to "tax-cut" blasphemy in Ryan's world. "He is deeply admired by members and staff. Father Conroy's ministry here has made a difference, and we are all very grateful to him". "And the speaker said it was just because certain people said he was not giving good counsel".

Instead, Ryan suggested that Conroy was not meeting the pastoral needs of members of Congress, according to those in the conference.

However, in his resignation letter, Conroy noted that he was stepping down "as you have requested" and has since made clear that he had no interest in leaving Capitol Hill.

The House and Senate chaplains perform ceremonial duties, such as opening the daily sessions with a prayer, as well as other pastoral and ceremonial duties, such as presiding over the weddings and funerals of members of Congress. "As the members of this people's House deliberate these days, give them the wisdom and magnanimity to lay aside what might divide us as a people to forge a secure future for our country", he prayed Friday morning.

In his letter of resignation, he called his seven years of House service "one of the great privileges of my life".

But news organizations then got hold of Conroy's letter to Speaker Ryan announcing his resignation, quote, "as you have requested".

"As legislation on taxes continues to be debated this week and next, may all Members be mindful that the institutions and structures of our great Nation guarantee the opportunities that have allowed some to achieve great success, while others continue to struggle", he said at the time.

Conroy, a Roman Catholic priest from the Jesuit order, had served as the chamber's chaplain since 2011.

But minority leader Nancy Pelosi told NBC she has never received a complaint about Conroy and that Ryan "did a very bad thing" by forcing the priest out. I just think it's interesting that when the former Catholic Speaker [John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerArizona GOP victor to join Freedom Caucus We need more congressional oversight on matters of war A warning to Ryan's successor: The Speakership is no cakewalk MORE (R-Ohio)] was leaving, he invited the Pope to speak before the House of Representatives. That would presumably rule out another Catholic priest.

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