House Chaplain Says Ryan Forced Him Out

Rev. Patrick Conroy at Jesuit High in 2012. Doug Beghtel The Oregonian

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi blasted the speaker in an unusually harsh statement. "I have gotten to know him pretty well, and I didn't understand it".

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

Walker, who is also co-chair of the Prayer Caucus, didn't explicitly say another Catholic could not serve as House chaplain.

One of the initial actions taken by the first U.S. Senate in 1789 was to select the Right Reverend Samuel Provoost, Episcopal Bishop of NY to serve as the first Senate Chaplain. Despite rumors that Ryan had demanded the resignation over a prayer prior to the tax overhaul debate, he insisted that members had complained about a lack of access to pastoral care and spiritual direction.

About a week later, Father Conroy said, he heard from the speaker's office.

About a week after he gave his prayer, the speaker's officer got in touch with Conroy and voiced complaints, the Times reported.

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"I was asked to resign, that is clear", Father Conroy said. But maybe some members were hearing "My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves" even if that's not what Conroy said.

Chaplain Patrick Conroy is just the second Catholic priest to serve as House chaplain and the House leadership of Boehner, Pelosi, and Ryan are all Catholic. His explanation didn't assure all Republicans, either. Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., part of the group searching for the next chaplain, suggested someone "that has adult children, that kind of can connect with the bulk" of lawmakers and the problems they face with children who "made some bad decisions" or a spouse upset about the legislative schedule. "It is such an unprecedented action to only be taken for very, very serious issues". "It suggests to me that there are members who have talked to him about being upset with that prayer". "Why wouldn't you give him to the end of this Congress which is the end of this year so that he can gracefully exit?"

The reason behind Conroy's ouster is unclear, though Democratic sources told The Hill it was because Conroy offered a prayer on the House floor that could have been interpreted as critical of the GOP tax law, legislation strongly championed by Ryan.

There are also reports that some lawmakers were dissatisfied with his service, but no one has stepped forward to criticize Conroy.

Republicans leaving a party meeting on Friday said Ryan told them Conroy was forced out after lawmakers complained that had not been adequately tending to the pastoral needs of lawmakers.

Congress adjourned Friday for a weeklong recess.

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Conroy's replacement should be forewarned: No Sermon on the Mount, and be careful when it comes to Proverbs.

For a short time in the 1850s, the House and Senate had no chaplains because petitions sought the abolishment of Congressional chaplaincy, citing the separation of church and state and saying that the offices had become too politicized.

His resignation letter said he was offering to step down at Ryan's request, calling his seven years of House service 'one of the great privileges of my life'.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. "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.

Strong tried to deflect charges that religious and political disagreements were behind Ryan's request for Conroy's resignation.

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