Ousted House chaplain rescinds his resignation

The U.S. House chaplain who Speaker Paul Ryan tried to dismiss last month has rescinded his resignation, setting up a standoff with the lame-duck speaker just months before a hard midterm election for Republicans.

Conroy's decision to rescind his resignation comes one day after Republican Congressman Walter Jones, a Catholic, sent Ryan a strongly worded letter questioning his decision and demanding that he reinstate the chaplain for the remaining eight months of his term.

"I do not wish to have my "resignation" be construed as a "constructive termination, '" Conroy wrote". "My original decision was made in what I believed to be in the best interest of this institution".

"This was not about politics or prayers, it was about pastoral services". Ryan also mentioned inadequate "spiritual counseling", Conroy said. However, the letter goes on to say he has chose to rescind that resignation and adds that if Ryan wants to fire him he will have to do so without Conroy's consent. "Help them to make wise decisions in a good manner and to carry their responsibilities steadily, with high hopes for a better future for our great nation", the chaplain said in a prayer opening the session on November 6, as the tax reform bill was being considered.

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Conroy also wrote that he was never "disciplined" or "reprimanded" during his time as chaplain and that he never "heard a complaint" about his ministry.

The reversal threatens to sow conflict among Republicans already on edge about who will be their next leader following Ryan's retirement after November's election, when the GOP is at risk of losing the House majority. 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".

In a letter, the Jesuit priest said that a top Ryan aide told him "maybe it's time that we had a chaplain that wasn't a Catholic" while asking for his resignation. Ryan told lawmakers last week that Conroy was pushed out because he was not meeting the "pastoral needs" of members. "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". "In retracting my resignation I wish to do just that".

"As you have requested, I hereby offer my resignation as the 60th Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives", Conroy wrote in a letter to Ryan, first reported by The Hill. The story that eventually rose to the top of the gossip mill was this: previous year, as Ryan and his fellow Republicans were attempting to hammer out the details of their prized tax bill, Conroy gave a blessing that included the line: "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", a message that prompted Ryan to tell Conroy, the next time the two crossed paths, "Padre, you just got to stay out of politics".

  • Sonia Alvarado