Paul Ryan allows House Chaplain to 'remain in his position' after receiving scathing letter that rescinded his resignation

  • Rev. Patrick Conroy, the House chaplain and a Jesuit priest, rescinded his resignation on Thursday after House Speaker Paul Ryan asked him to step down.
  • Conroy has served in the role, an elected position, since 2011.
  • Ryan later released a statement saying that he “accepted” Conroy’s letter and would allow him to “remain in his position.”

The Catholic priest who has served as chaplain of the House of Representatives since 2011 rescinded his resignation on Thursday after a week of confusion and feuding with House Speaker Paul Ryan, who requested Rev. Patrick Conroy step down.

Conroy sent a letter to Ryan outlining his decision to not resign after first doing so.

“I have never been disciplined, nor reprimanded, nor have I ever heard a complaint about my ministry during my time as House chaplain,” Conroy wrote.

Conroy also noted the process in which Ryan’s office requested his ouster, citing a jab by the speaker’s chief of staff Jonathan Burks.

“I inquired as to whether or not is was ‘for cause,’ and Mr. Burks mentioned dismissively something like ‘maybe it’s time that we had a Chaplain that wasn’t Catholic,'” Conroy wrote. “He also mentioned my November prayer and an interview with the National Journal Daily.”

Conroy also tempted Ryan to take matters into his own hands, because he does not “wish to have my ‘resignation’ be construed as a ‘constructive termination.'”

“You may wish to outright ‘fire’ me, if you have the authority to do so, but should you wish to terminate my services, it will be without my offer of resignation, as you requested,” Conroy added.

On Thursday afternoon, Ryan released a statement saying that he “accepted” Conroy’s letter and would allow him to “remain in his position.”

“I have accepted Father Conroy’s letter and decided that he will remain in his position as Chaplain of the House,” Ryan said in a statement. “My original decision was made in what I believed to be the best interest of this institution.”

“To be clear, that decision was based on my duty to ensure that the House has the kind of pastoral services that it deserves,” the statement continued. “It is my job as speaker to do what is best for this body, and I know that this body is not well served by a protracted fight over such an important post. I intend to sit down with Father Conroy early next week so that we can move forward for the good of the whole House.”

The speaker might not have had the authority to fire the House chaplain. Per House Rule II, which outlines selection of officials and officers, the clerk, sergeant-at-arms, and chief administrative officer “may be removed by the House or by the Speaker.” The rule specifically leaves out the chaplain as to who can be removed by the speaker.

There was speculation surrounding Conroy’s forced resignation last week, when allegations surfaced that Ryan had been upset with a morning prayer that hoped for a fair tax law last November.

Ryan said at an event in Wisconsin that he requested Conroy’s resignation because “a number of our members felt like the pastoral services were not being adequately served, or offered.”

The Washington Post first reported the news.

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