Congressional chaplain can stay in job: House Speaker

House Chaplain Rescinds His Resignation

The House chaplain, Rev. Patrick Conroy, has made a decision 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.

House Speaker Paul Ryan has accepted the un-resignation of House Chaplain Patrick Conroy, who issued the speaker a scathing letter withdrawing his previously tendered resignation. Some Republicans including Peter King of NY offered strong support for the priest after he sent his resignation letter last month, while others such as Mark Walker of North Carolina criticized his ministry. The Washington Post also reported that Ryan told House Republicans on Friday that he had gotten complaints about Conroy's "pastoral style", according to the paper.

"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".

A separate GOP member who attended the meeting said Ryan "didn't say this as bluntly but the reason for the change is that many of us like Father Conroy but we feel like he didn't do anything".

Ryan said he plans to meet with Conroy next week.

Conroy wrote that he initially gave into pressure to resign, believing that Ryan had the power to fire him but believes now that Ryan pressured him into resigning for lack of cause. "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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"Recently, on April 27, you publicly indicated that my "pastoral services" to some Members were lacking and that I did not offer adequate "spiritual counseling" to others", Conroy wrote to Ryan.

The Jesuit priest said that he had never been disciplined, and had received zero complaints about his ministry during his almost seven years as House chaplain, but felt as though he was being forced into resigning by Ryan.

In the first version, he wrote that Ryan, who is Catholic, should consult with his chief of staff on a resignation date, but the second version stated his last day would be May 24.

Congress is out this week, but a bipartisan group was planning maneuvers next week to hold Ryan's feet to the fire on the surprise ouster of Conroy.

As ThinkProgress' Melanie Schmitz noted last month, "Both Ryan and Conroy are Catholic, although Conroy is Jesuit - a more liberal and scholarly wing of Catholicism that tends to place more emphasis on Catholic social justice teachings - while Ryan is a Catholic conservative".

Conroy has served as the chamber's chaplain since 2011. "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". "I intend to sit down with Father Conroy early next week so that we can move forward for the good of the whole House".

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