House chaplain almost ousted by Paul Ryan rescinds resignation

The House chaplain, Rev. Patrick Conroy, has chose to fight Speaker Paul Ryan's move to oust him - telling the Republican leader on Thursday he wants to retract the resignation letter he submitted at Ryan's direction. But in a letter dated Thursday, Conroy told Ryan he is formally rescinding his resignation. Conroy went on to state vehemently: "In fact, no such criticism has ever been levelled against me during my tenure as a House chaplain".

In his letter Conroy said when he asked Burks if Ryan's request was for cause Burks responded dismissively by suggesting "maybe it's time that we had a Chaplain that wasn't a Catholic".

Ryan added, "It is my job as speaker to do what is best for the body, and I know that this body is not well-served by a protracted fight over such an important post".

Ryan had strongly denied the chaplain was forced to resign for his politics, saying lawmakers had complained about his lack of interaction, but in a surprise move the speaker announced Thursday that he accepted Conroy's letter and was reversing his decision. The Wisconsin Republican insisted "my original decision was made in what I believed to be the best interest of this institution".

During a conference earlier this week, Ryan insisted his decision to oust Conroy wasn't political, but performance-based, "and a number of our members felt like the pastoral services were not being adequately served, or offered". Today, that came to a head when Father Conroy sent a letter to Ryan rescinding his previous resignation.

"I do not wish to have my "resignation" be construed as a "constructive termination, '" Conroy wrote". Rumors flew as to what would have caused Ryan to ask Conroy, whom lawmakers described as a "fairly popular figure", to step down. "At the very least, if it were, I could have attempted to correct such 'faults", he said. The Jesuit priest noted that it was Ryan's chief of staff, Jonathan Burks, who informed him that the speaker was asking for his resignation.

In a statement shared with HuffPost, Burks said he disagreed with the Conroy's "recollection" of the conversation.

"Padre, you just got to stay out of politics", Ryan also reportedly later told Conroy. He alleged that Ryan's chief of staff cited his religion, Catholicism, as one reason Ryan wanted him to resign. The resignation letter originally stated, "As you have requested, I hereby offer my resignation as the 60th Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives..."

Conroy disputed this allegation, and said that he would have made an effort to adjust his ministry in order to better serve the House.

Conroy was ordained in 1983 and was nominated to be House chaplain in May 2011 by then-Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in consultation with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).


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