Paul Ryan Reverses Decision to Oust House Chaplain

Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Patrick Conroy spent seven years as house chaplain

House Speaker Paul Ryan, went back on his decision to eject Reverend Patrick J. Conroy as House Chaplain on May 3. The speaker was compelled to do so after much noise was made when Conroy alleged an anti-Catholic bias held by the chief of Ryan's staff.

This was a far cry from the time when Reverend Conroy submitted a letter stating that he wants to resign from the United States House of Representatives. The letter was dated April 15. It was read aloud on the House floor, but not many people paid heed. Only a few weeks later, this act of resignation and rescinding of the application attracted many people. The House Chaplain got his job back.

Conroy was the first Jesuit to be a House Chaplain. He was a respected figure and has acted as therapist and spiritual guide to members during his service spanning seven years. Questions remain over why Ryan, himself a Catholic, asked for Conroy's resignation. The mystery generated speculation and rumors that have shaken Capitol Hill at an ordinarily peaceful time when both chambers enjoy a recess. The decision to let go of the House Chaplain was the end of a strange dispute between a Jesuit priest and a Catholic speaker. Conroy has spent seven years in total at the house. He served as spiritual adviser to not only 435 lawmakers, but also thousands of the congressional staffers who visits the priest for personal advice.

Bill Donohue, the Catholic League president, alleged that the Reverend Conroy was the victim of anti-Catholic bias. The former stated that Ryan’s chief of staff Jonathan Burks, said they want a non-Catholic chaplain. Donohue also advised the House Speaker to look for a new chief of staff and that anti-Catholic bigotry is not acceptable under any circumstances, and especially not in Washington.

News reports published two versions of the chaplain's actual resignation letter. The first version showed the Reverend asking that Ryan may consult with the chief of staff to settle on a resignation date. The second version stated the last day to be May 24. Both the versions noted that Conroy was “requested” by the House Speaker to submit his resignation. There were no explanations as to why he was asked to do so.

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