House Chaplain Retracts Resignation, Dares Speaker to Try to Fire Him

Says in letter that Ryan chief of staff suggested maybe chaplain should not be Catholic

House Chaplain Rev. Patrick J. Conroy has informed Speaker Paul D. Ryan that he intends to rescind his resignation.

In a letter to the Wisconsin Republican, Conroy wrote, in effect, that Ryan or the House would need to fire him if the intent is to have him leave before his current term ends at the end of this Congress.

“Had I known of any failure in providing my ministry to the House, I would have attempted to make the appropriate adjustments, but in no case would I have agreed to submit a letter of resignation without being given that opportunity,” Conroy wrote. “Therefore, I wish to serve the remainder of my term as House Chaplain, unless terminated ‘for cause.’”

Conroy said that public explanations provided by Ryan did not line up with what he had been told in private by Ryan Chief of Staff Jonathan Burks.

“Recently, on April 27, you publicly indicated that my ‘pastoral services’ to some Members were lacking and that I did not offer adequate ‘spiritual counseling’ to others,” Conroy wrote to Ryan. “This is not the reason that Mr. Burks gave me when asking for my ‘resignation.’”

Conroy wrote that the reasons given by Burks included an interview with National Journal, as well as a possible question of whether the House chaplain should be a Catholic priest.

“Mr. Burks mentioned dismissively something like ‘maybe it’s time that we had a Chaplain that wasn’t Catholic,’” Conroy wrote.

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