The House Chaplain Will Keep His Job After All

May 4, 2018, 10:05 AM UTC

Looks like chaplain of the House of Representatives Rev. Patrick Conroy will keep his job after all.

On April 15, Conroy sent a letter of resignation to House Speaker Paul Ryan, suggesting that he was leaving the post following a request from Ryan himself. The letter was made public just over a week later, sparking outrage among members of both parties.

A bipartisan group of House members proceeded to draft a letter to Ryan, demanding that he reveal the reasons for demanding Conroy’s resignation.

On Thursday, Conroy rescinded his resignation following “advice of counsel.” In a letter addressed to Ryan, Conroy wrote, “I have never been disciplined, nor reprimanded, nor have I ever heard a complaint about my ministry during my time as House Chaplain.”

“It is my desire to continue to serve as House Chaplain…to the end of my current two-year term, and beyond, unless my services are officially terminated (however that is properly done) or I am not re-elected to the position by the membership of the House.”

Ryan accepted Conroy’s decision later on Thursday, issuing a statement saying that his “original decision was made in what I believed to be in 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.”

“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,” he continued. “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 original reason behind Ryan’s request is still not entirely clear. However, in Conroy’s letter, he does note that when Ryan’s chief of staff, Jonathan Burks, approached him about his resignation, Burks reportedly “dismissively” suggested that “maybe it’s time that we had a Chaplain that wasn’t Catholic.” Burks also reportedly mentioned a November prayer Conroy had given that could be seen to be critical of the GOP tax bill, as well as an interview Conroy gave with the National Journal Daily.

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