House Chaplain Patrick Conroy announced Thursday he would not resign, saying he was pressured to do so without a clear reason.
Conroy rescinded his resignation via a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan, saying he resigned on April 15 because he thought Ryan had the authority to fire him but now believes Ryan pressured him into resigning without cause, according to The Washington Post. Ryan told Conroy to stay out of politics and Jonathan Burks, Ryan’s top aide, told him it might be time for a chaplain who is not Catholic, the house chaplain explained.
“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.’ He also mentioned my November prayer and an interview with the National Journal Daily,” Conroy alleged in the letter, according to The Hill.
The decision to demand Conroy’s resignation was based on several complaints about the chaplain’s pastoral services from House members and staff, Ryan, who is also Catholic, said.
“This was not about politics or prayers; it was about pastoral services. And a number of our members felt like the pastoral services were not being adequately served or offered,” Ryan said, according to WaPo.
Some members of the house took issue with the Jesuit priest’s decision to have an Imam deliver a Muslim prayer before the House, while others alleged Conroy seemed to favor Democrats, according to New York Post.
Conroy also referenced the November prayer in an April 26 interview with The New York Times. Conroy delivered the prayer when Congress was debating tax overhauls.
“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,” Conroy prayed, according to NYT. “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.”
Conroy’s prayer drew immediate criticism from the Speaker’s office, the chaplain said.
“A staffer came down and said, ‘We are upset with this prayer; you are getting too political,'” Conroy told NYT. “It suggests to me that there are members who have talked to him about being upset with that prayer.”
“Padre, you just got to stay out of politics,” Ryan also reportedly later told Conroy.
Conroy had never been disciplined or been made aware of any issues with his service as chaplain, and there was therefor no reason for him to resign, the chaplain asserted in his letter to Ryan.
“I have never been disciplined nor reprimanded, nor have I ever heard a complaint about my ministry during my time as House chaplain,” Conroy wrote, according to the WaPo.
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