U.S. lawmakers bicker over chaplain's ouster by Paul Ryan

Patrick Conroy: House Chaplain Proffers Resignation At Speaker Paul Ryan's Request, Ignites Outrage In Capitol

"Evidently, that would mean that no Catholic priest ever apply again to be a chaplain of the House of Representatives, if that's a standard", said Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., a Catholic who had two uncles who were priests.

On Friday, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joseph Crowley offered up a privileged resolution to establish a six-person select committee to look into Conroy's firing.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, a New York Democrat, said on Twitter the ousting was "anti-Catholic".

House members from both parties on Friday morning sent Ryan a letter, first obtained by Roll Call, condemning the decision.

"To me it was an unsatisfactory answer", King said.

Conroy was nominated in 2011 by former Republican House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio. "I have expressed my forceful disagreement with this decision to the Speaker".

GOP Reps. Tom Reed of NY and Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania voted with Dems on the measure. "So you're eliminating anyone who's a Catholic priest - a Catholic nun - from being the chaplain of the House", Rep. Connolly told The Hill. If Ryan thinks encouraging lawmakers to pass legislation that is without "winners and losers" but has benefits "balanced and shared by all Americans" is a criticism of the GOP tax bill, perhaps the tax bill - advertised as a great gift to the middle class - is the problem, not the clergyman. Conroy said he doesn't know if politics played a role, but noted that after the tax cut prayer he was criticized by the speaker's office for the first time during his seven-year tenure. "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".

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The chaplain's job is to "perform ceremonial, symbolic, and pastoral duties", including opening House sessions with a prayer or coordinating the delivery of the prayer by guest chaplains recommended by members of the House. They cited Conroy's decision to invite a Muslim cleric to deliver a prayer on the House floor in October, as well as a Q&A interview he gave to the National Journal in January, during which he urged religious tolerance and spoke about the public rush to judgment following high profile instances of sexual misconduct.

On Thursday, Ryan's spokesperson AshLee Strong denied that Conroy was pushed out for anything he said or did, but she didn't elaborate on what triggered the resignation request.

"Leader Pelosi was given advance notice by Speaker Ryan", said a Pelosi spokesman, but she "also made it clear to Speaker Ryan that she disagreed with this decision". The priest, whose last day will be May 24, tells the New York Times that "Catholic members on both sides are furious".

Among those who have signed on is Republican Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina.

Rep. Gerry Connolly told the Huffington Post that he was "informed reliably" by Republican House members that the Speaker's anger at Conroy's final prayer during the tax bill debate fueled his request for the Chaplain's dismissal.

"There are Catholics who are Republicans and there are Catholics who are Democrats", he said in the Times.

When asked what reasons Ryan gave in the caucus meeting for why the chaplain was sacked, GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn was at a total loss for words.

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