House Speaker Paul Ryan met with the House chaplain Tuesday — a man he pressured to resign, then reinstated — to discuss improvements to his ministerial services.
Ryan met with Jesuit Rev. Patrick Conroy over coffee to talk about how to improve his pastoral services so that all House members on either side of the aisle are satisfied, according to Crux Now. Ryan said that he is pleased with the state of the chaplaincy in light of that conversation, and is confident that he and Conroy can move past the controversy over his resignation and reinstatement and work together.
“Absolutely,” Ryan said, according to CNN. “We talked about how to improve the services going forward. We’re going to keep talking. I think we can ultimately make improvements so that everybody has access to the pastoral services they’re looking for.”
“I feel good about where things are,” Ryan added.
Some House members, like Rep. Peter King, a New York Republican, still want answers. King told reporters after the weekly GOP meeting that while he was happy that Conroy was reinstated, he still had questions about the circumstances that led to his initial resignation.
Conroy initially resigned as House chaplain on April 15 after Ryan demanded he step down. Conroy claimed that neither Ryan nor anyone on his staff gave him specific reasons for why he should resign and that he received no complaints about his services as chaplain.
Ryan, however, claimed that he based his demand for Conroy’s resignation on the complaints of several House members, but did not go into detail about the nature of those complaints. Conroy speculated that he was being ousted in part for a prayer he gave in November of 2017, when the House was discussing tax overhauls, after which Ryan reportedly told him “Padre, you just got to stay out of politics.”
Conroy also garnered criticism when, instead of praying before the House, he invited an Imam to lead a Muslim prayer. Some conservative members also alleged that Conroy seemed to favor Democrats over Republicans.
Conroy rescinded his resignation in a scathing letter to Ryan, who is also Catholic, in which he said that there was no reason to demand his resignation. He also alleged in the letter that Ryan’s top aide, Jonathan Burks, told him it may be time for a non-Catholic chaplain.
“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.
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