House Chaplain rescinds resignation, wants to know his 'faults'

Rev. Patrick Conroy chaplain of the House of Representatives in

Former House Chaplain Patrick Conroy has taken back his resignation in a scathing letter to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), saying he was forced into resigning without a cause-except that he's Catholic. Some Republicans including Peter King of NY offered strong support for the priest after he sent his resignation letter last month, while others such as Mark Walker of North Carolina criticized his ministry.

"My original decision was made in what I believed to be the best interest of this institution", Ryan said. Ryan's office has since claimed, however, that the decision to request Conroy's resignation was due to complaints that he did not meet the "pastoral needs" of members of the House.

Burks, Ryan's chief of staff, also released a statement Thursday, saying, "I strongly disagree with Father Conroy's recollection of our conversation".

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that Conroy's service as House chaplain has been "a blessing to members on both sides of the aisle". Ryan has said he was dissatisfied with Conroy's pastoral care to lawmakers.

Conroy says that he never spoke to Ryan about his resignation or termination but that his chief of staff Jonathan Burks requested that the chaplain step down. Conroy has previously said Ryan told him, "you just got to stay out of politics". Conroy also invited a Muslim cleric a year ago to give the opening prayer, a move that Democrats say may have upset GOP conservatives. "And a number of our members felt like the pastoral services were not being adequately served or offered", Ryan said, according to WaPo.

"At this time, and upon advice of counsel, I herby retract and rescind said resignation for the reasons that follow", Conroy wrote in the letter dated Thursday and addressed to Ryan.

"It's going to be more trouble than it's worth", Wilson said, and will now be hard for Ryan to "extricate himself gracefully".

He added that he wishes to serve the remainder of his term as House chaplain unless terminated "for cause". He wrote: "This is not the reason that Mr Burks gave me when asking for my "resignation".

Ryan said he planned to sit down for Conroy early next week "so that we can move forward for the good of the whole House".

Congress is out this week, but a bipartisan group was planning maneuvers next week to hold Ryan's feet to the fire on the surprise ouster of Conroy.

Last November, Conroy prayed for lawmakers to make sure that "there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans". The story that eventually rose to the top of the gossip mill was this: past year, as Ryan and his fellow Republicans were attempting to hammer out the details of their prized tax bill, Conroy gave a blessing that included the line: "May their efforts these days guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans", a message that prompted Ryan to tell Conroy, the next time the two crossed paths, "Padre, you just got to stay out of politics".

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