Chaplain to US Congress retracts his resignation

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan R-Wis. holds his weekly news conference at the Capitol in Washington

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan R-Wis. holds his weekly news conference at the Capitol in Washington

After rescinding his resignation, claiming politics and anti-Catholic bias had been behind efforts to drive him out, Home Chaplain Father Patrick Conroy says if Home Speaker Ryan desires him gone he'll have to fireside him outright.

"My original decision was made in what I believed to be the best interest of this institution", he said.

Finally, as noted, it has been suggested that Ryan's decision to force Conroy out came in the wake of complaints by fellow Republicans, most of whom are not Catholic, that the House Chaplin was Catholic to begin with.

Ryan released his own statement Thursday, seeking to explain his thought process. In this message, Ryan said, "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 position".

Conroy has served as the chamber's chaplain since 2011.

As noted above, there was at least some speculation that Conroy's dismissal was rooted in the prayer that he read at the opening of a House session in November that appeared to make reference to the tax reform bill that the House of Representatives was debating at the time.

The decision capped a highly unusual dispute between the Catholic speaker, who announced last month that he would retire so he could spend time with his teenage children, and a Jesuit priest who has spent seven years serving as the spiritual adviser to 435 lawmakers and thousands of congressional staff.

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Ryan added he meant to sit with Conroy "so that we're able to move forward for the good of the whole House".

Pelosi launched her personal assertion Thursday, saying she was joyful that Conroy could be staying on as chaplain.

"While you never spoke with me in person, nor did you send me any correspondence, on Friday April 13, 2018 your Chief of Staff, Jonathan Burks, came to me and informed me that you were asking for my letter of resignation", Conroy wrote.

But that wasn't enough for Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., who told reporters after the meeting, "I'm not aware of any discontent or any criticism and to be the first House Chaplain removed in the history of Congress in the middle of the term raises serious questions and I think we deserve more of an explanation and why was there political pressure". His letter also said he was retracting the resignation "upon advice of counsel", potentially hinting that he might take legal action depending on what happened next.

Making an attempt to quell the controversy, Ryan has accepted Conroy's choice to remain on the job saying they may meet subsequent week so as to "transfer ahead".

Democrats contended for weeks that Conroy's dismissal was due to a prayer he delivered previous year as lawmakers prepared to begin consideration of tax reform - irking Republicans.

Ryan received significant resistance from both parties over the move, including a letter from 148 House members. "The feeble excuses offered by Speaker Ryan are merely a pretext to cover for the whims of extremists in his caucus. Nonetheless, many distressing questions should nonetheless be answered in regards to the motivations behind Father Conroy's unwarranted and unjust dismissal".

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