A week after announcing his resignation from his role as chaplain of the House of Representatives, Rev. Patrick Conroy has reconsidered whether House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has the authority to force him out of his position—and decided against it, retracting his decision to leave his post in a letter to Ryan on Thursday.
"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," wrote Conroy.
Father Conroy’s choice to rescind his letter of resignation seems perfectly appropriate, considering reports that there were either no reasons for his dismissal, or they were politically charged. https://t.co/4dQZqbVPZ4
— Sr. Simone Campbell (@sr_simone) May 3, 2018
Speaker Ryan forgot something about Pat Conroy, SJ. It's the same thing that some cardinals forgot about Pope Francis: Jesuits aren't pushovers. https://t.co/Ulr6HWrks1
— James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) May 3, 2018
Ryan claimed last week that several members of Congress had said "the pastoral services were not being adequately served or offered" by Conroy, who has served as House chaplain since 2011.
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The priest's ouster, however, was widely believed to have been tied to a prayer Conroy led in November 2017 regarding the Republican tax plan, in which he prayed that members would "be mindful that the institutions and structures of our great nation guarantee the opportunities that have allowed some to achieve great success, while others continue to struggle," and that the legislation would include “benefits balanced and shared by all Americans."
According to the priest's recounting of Ryan's attempt to replace him, the House speaker made no attempt to speak directly to Conroy about dissatisfaction with his work.
Instead, he wrote, Ryan's chief of staff "came to me and informed me that you were asking for my resignation." When Conroy questioned the decision the staffer "mentioned dismissively something like 'maybe it's time that we had a Chaplain that wasn't Catholic.'"
Conroy's letter also states that Ryan's aide "mentioned my November prayer," the one in which he talked about the importance of fair taxation.
Conroy sent his letter days after a bipartisan group of lawmakers demanded more information about the reasons behind chaplain's resignation. Ryan released a brief statement Thursday stating that Conroy would remain in his position—but some members of Congress said they would continue to investigate whether the priest was unfairly pushed out of his job.
While I'm pleased that Rev. Conroy rescinded his resignation & Speaker Ryan accepted it, there are many unanswered questions. My colleagues & I will continue to look into the motivation behind why Rev. Conroy was unjustly asked to resign in the first placehttps://t.co/3W1LnA4Mqv
— Mark DeSaulnier (@RepDeSaulnier) May 4, 2018