House chaplain withdraws resignation; Ryan backs down, reinstates him

From The New York Times: 

The chaplain of the House of Representatives, who was recently forced to resign by Speaker Paul D. Ryan, said Thursday that he is rescinding his decision — in effect forcing Mr. Ryan to try to fire him.

Father Patrick J. Conroy, a Catholic priest who has been the chaplain for the past 11 years, wrote in a letter to Mr. Ryan that he would like to serve out his full two-year term, “and possibly beyond,” unless he is officially terminated. He also intimated that Mr. Ryan does not have the authority to fire him, noting that the chaplain, who is selected by the speaker, is elected by the members of the House.

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

Read the full text of his letter, which includes the suggestion that he was fired over his religion, with Speaker Paul Ryan’s chief of staff saying, “Maybe it’s time we had a chaplain that wasn’t a Catholic.”

UPDATE: 

Speaker Paul D. Ryan reinstated the Rev. Patrick J. Conroy as the chaplain of the House of Representatives on Thursday, after the chaplain sent him a letter rescinding his forced resignation and daring the speaker to fire him.

“I have accepted Father Conroy’s letter and decided that he will remain in his position as chaplain of the House,” Mr. Ryan said in a statement. He added, “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.”

Father Conroy, a Catholic priest who has been the chaplain since 2011, intimated in a letter to Mr. Ryan on Thursday that the speaker did not have the authority to fire him, noting that the chaplain, who is selected by the speaker, is elected by the members of the House. He suggested his Catholic faith had contributed to his dismissal.

And in an interview, Father Conroy said he had hired a lawyer to press his case. “This is so contentious, and I think it is so historic,” Father Conroy said, adding, “It’s not over.”

After Mr. Ryan reversed course, the chaplain accepted some responsibility in the debacle.

“We both acknowledged that we need to talk about how I can improve my performance so the chaplaincy operates for as many members as possible,” he said. “I don’t know any pastor or any chaplain anywhere that doesn’t have some detractors. That is the human condition. My problem is I was never told that that was the case.”

Read more. 


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