Report: House chaplain, a Jesuit priest, was forced out by Speaker Paul Ryan

Patrick J. Conroy, S.J., seen here in June 2017, had been the chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives since 2011.  (CNS photo/Rhina Guidos)Patrick J. Conroy, S.J., seen here in June 2017, had been the chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives since 2011.  (CNS photo/Rhina Guidos)

A Jesuit priest who served as chaplain to the U.S. House of Representatives since 2011 was forced to resign by Republican Speaker Paul Ryan earlier this month, The Hill newspaper reported Thursday. (Update: On Friday, the U.S. House rejected a proposal to investigate the circumstances of the resignation.)

According to the report, Patrick Conroy, S.J., submitted his resignation earlier this month, and it included a reference that it was written at the request of Speaker Ryan, who is Catholic.

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“As you have requested, I hereby offer my resignation as the 60th Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives,” the letter reads, according to The Hill.

Members of Congress from both parties expressed shock at the forced resignation, The Hill reports, with one congressional aide telling reporters that the speaker was dismayed by a prayer Father Conroy gave on the House floor that some may have interpreted as being critical of the G.O.P.-backed tax bill that passed last year.

“As legislation on taxes continues to be debated this week and next, may all Members be mindful that the institutions and structures of our great Nation guarantee the opportunities that have allowed some to achieve great success, while others continue to struggle,” Father Conroy said on Nov. 6, 2017. “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”.

“May their efforts these days guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws"—Father Conroy in a House prayer last fall

A Republican aide told the newspaper Father Conroy’s dismissal was not because of one particular prayer. Another aide, a Democrat, told the paper that some members took issue with Father Conroy’s decision to invite a Muslim to lead a prayer. Imam Abdullah Antepli, who works at Duke University, delivered a prayer on the House floor in October 2017, the eighth Muslim prayer delivered there since 2001, The Washington Post reported last year.

Father Conroy’s resignation was made public in an April 16 statement from Speaker Ryan’s office, in which Mr. Ryan said, “Father Conroy has been a great source of strength and support to our community. He is deeply admired by members and staff. Father Conroy’s ministry here has made a difference, and we are all very grateful to him.”

A spokesman for Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who is also Catholic, told The Hill that the Democrat was made aware of Mr. Ryan’s plans to fire the chaplain—but passed along her disagreement with the decision.

“Catholic members on both sides of the aisle were furious to learn that Conroy’s retirement was not voluntary, according to multiple sources, including one Republican lawmaker and one Democratic member,” The Hill reported.

A bipartisan search is underway for a new chaplain. Father Conroy’s last day will be May 24.

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J Cosgrove
3 months 3 weeks ago

Maybe we should wait for Ryan's comments. I am sure the press will ask him since they will want to make him look bad. Almost certainly it was not solely Ryan's idea but a consensus among several Republicans. The chaplain serves both parties so if a large number are not happy with him for whatever reasons then he or she should resign.

For example, a anonymous person says it was a prayer about the taxes and from this, people are assuming it is true. We will have to wait and see. We have Mr O'Loughlin's interpretation that this is the rationale but only anonymous sources. Maybe true but maybe it was something else.

Democrats say it was the tax care prayer. Ryan through his spokeswoman said it was not. One thing is sure it will be made political. Mr. O'Loughlin made it political with this article.

As to whom would not benefit from the tax law, I thought it was the very rich. So may the good father was upset the rich would pay more. Their percentage of income taxes have gone up. They are mostly Democrats so he may have been praying for Democrats.

There have been only two Catholic chaplains in the House of Congress. They have been the last two chaplains and both were appointed by Republicans and have served for 18 years. The Democrats in all their years in charge of the House never selected a Catholic chaplain.

Michael Marinelli
3 months 3 weeks ago

hmm I don't think they have to work too hard to accomplish that.

Joshua DeCuir
3 months 2 weeks ago

Well, if Mr. Ryan were so concerned about it, he could publicly disclose why it was he asked for his resignation. But he hasn't done that - either in private to Fr. Conroy or publicly.

Christopher Lochner
3 months 3 weeks ago

There must be more to the story. How exactly would he force him to resign? You'd think the Georgetown Jesuits who are well adept at political machinations, being in DC and all, would've known how to counter this. What gives?? A request to resign? The reply should've been a McAuliffe style, "Nuts".

Christopher Lochner
3 months 3 weeks ago

And being a devotee of Ayn Rand and being a Catholic are about as diametrically opposed as is possible.

Ellen B
3 months 2 weeks ago

Being a politician and thinking you would be included in "Galt's Gulch" is opposed as well.

James Haraldson
3 months 2 weeks ago

He was never a "devotee" of Ayn Rand. He did, as any rational person would, enjoy some of her criticisms of socialism. False witness is still a violation of a Commandment.

Rylan Gibvens
3 months 2 weeks ago

Almost as opposed as being Catholic and pro abortion.

Bill Niermeyer
3 months 3 weeks ago

The prayer to me seems very well balanced and stands firm with Christian values of equality. I am sure our Lord is pleased. How can a prayer even be formed that would include or exclude a certain group of peoples. I am sure our Lord Jesus is pleased to whom the prayer is addressed. Ryan wants the prayer to reflect a political interest. That cannot be since whose interest would benefit. Then is it even a prayer or just another political statement?

Kevin Murphy
3 months 3 weeks ago

He couldn't make a simple prayer without taking shots at the Republicans. I'm not surprised.

LuAnn O'Connell
3 months 3 weeks ago

Since when is praying for the poor taking shots at anyone? Does that mean Jesus took a lot of shots at Republicans?

John Weir
3 months 2 weeks ago

I believe it means that the GOP doesn’t live up to the Christian values it says it does.

Mike Escril
3 months 2 weeks ago

Most of the super-rich in this country are Democrats and liberals.

Ellen B
3 months 2 weeks ago

Since the tax cuts are such a great thing for Americans, how is that taking "shots" at Republicans?

Stuart Meisenzahl
3 months 3 weeks ago

My gosh ...I guess I am shocked...a Jesuit playing politics!

Claudio Ruiz Pilarte
3 months 3 weeks ago

He is not playing politics. He is simply offering a legitimate prayer in a politically charged environment.

Stuart Meisenzahl
3 months 2 weeks ago

Claudio
With all due respect you probably need more experience in dealing with Jesuits. Father Conroy undoubtedly understood better than any of us just how politically charged the atmosphere was at that point.

Steve Magnotta
3 months 3 weeks ago

The chaplain said a prayer. It's what he is supposed to do. The speaker chose, as his ilk does, to once again politicize Christianity. Shame! Shame on all who do so.

Steve Magnotta
3 months 3 weeks ago

.

Vincent Gaglione
3 months 3 weeks ago

Am I to presume that the position is at the behest and prerogative of the Speaker of the House? In which case, the Speaker exercised his prerogative.

BUT, (there’s always a “BUT”) who will replace Fr. Conroy? Let me guess…a good, old-fashioned, down home, evangelical preacher?...a Muslim imam?.....a Jewish rabbi?....how about a nun chaplain?...a Hindu priest?...a Shinto priest?...the list is unending. Perhaps in this one way the Speaker finally recognizes the need for diversity in the US House of Representatives. I look forward to his choice.

ALFRED CHAVEZ
3 months 2 weeks ago

Ah, yes Mr. Ryan, "where your treasure is, there also your heart will be."

Mike Theman
3 months 2 weeks ago

I'm a conservative and I see no issue with the cited portion of the prayer regarding the tax bill. The belief that this is why the priest was forced out exemplifies the misunderstanding that leftists have about conservatives, that is, that we believe in promoting inequality, giving benefit to some and not to others. In fact, what we believe - and I can't speak for the uber wealthy among us - is that if you cut taxes for everyone, especially those for whom government taxation restricts growth and investment in US industries, then everyone will benefit.

Vince Killoran
3 months 2 weeks ago

This isn't surprising news. Ryan has been frustrated in his efforts in the past decade of so to pivot from his embrace of Ayn Rand to claiming the mantel of Catholic social teaching.

Wilfreda Gonzalez
3 months 2 weeks ago

I know dozens of “Catholics”. Ask them about their Lent, attending Mass, Stations of the Cross, to read and discuss classics like St Teresa of Avila, St John of the Cross, attend a parish workshop on the Faith, be a lay minster at the parsih..., they balk, they list excuses, they write you off. Meanwhile they read Townhall, Breitbart, National Review, NYT, Washington Post, rabid Hillary cult members or unabashed so called “conservatives” / “liberals”, and you realize there is a reason why the USA is so messed up

Pope Francis wrote an excellent Apostolic Exhoratation, Gaudate et Exsultante. Who has read it? My husband and I are studying together, a few Catholic priest friends and thats about it

Ryan is an honorable man as is the Jesuit Conroy. Why continue to accuse others of being lesser men and women, when it is us, the sinner, who fails to walk godly? How about being a great saint instead of a mediocre ?

What a concept

“57. Still, some Christians insist on taking another path, that of justification by their own efforts, the
worship of the human will and their own abilities. The result is a self-centred and elitist
complacency, bereft of true love. This finds expression in a variety of apparently unconnected
ways of thinking and acting: an obsession with the law, an absorption with social and political
advantages, a punctilious concern for the Church’s liturgy, doctrine and prestige, a vanity about
the ability to manage practical matters, and an excessive concern with programmes of self-help
and personal fulfilment. Some Christians spend their time and energy on these things, rather than letting themselves be led by the Spirit in the way of love, rather than being passionate about
communicating the beauty and the joy of the Gospel and seeking out the lost among the immensecrowds that thirst for Christ.[63]
58. Not infrequently, contrary to the promptings of the Spirit, the life of the Church can become a
museum piece or the possession of a select few. ”

Be a great Saint!

Gaudete et Exsultante

Joshua DeCuir
3 months 2 weeks ago

I've completely lost what remaining respect I had for Ryan - and I am a registered Republican who has defended some of Ryan's policies in the past. This move makes him look petty & small; the Tax Bill was always going to pass in the House & if it's the great policy shift Ryan has touted it to be, then he shouldn't be so thin-skinned.

Finally, if anyone considers themselves a "conservative" who is not troubled by the violation of institutional norms that traditionally have bestowed bipartisan respect on the House chaplain, I would suggest re-reading Burke on the importance of norms. After all, Fr. Conroy was nominated by the last Republican Speaker of the House. So the only people "politicizing" his firing are those arguing that he somehow deserved because of what they are assuming about his politics.

Stuart Meisenzahl
3 months 2 weeks ago

Has anyone established that The Good Father was asked to resign BECAUSE of the invocation in November 6 2017?........So far this appears to be a case of rumor, innuendo, and pure speculation.
Has the author even asked Fr Conroy why he thinks he was asked to resign? The author now has Ryan wheeling Fr Conroy over a cliff instead of an old lady on govt health care.

Wilfreda Gonzalez
3 months 2 weeks ago

Agreed Stuart.

America Magazine is doing what all “news” sites do: bait/click headlines to drive traffic and hence revenue. I counted at least 4 pieces on Ryan vs Conroy on AM.

Americans are hooked on grievance, excess dopamine, outrage and self-stimulation.
These are not behaviors that reflect holiness, nor those who deceive them with temptation and scandalous click/bait headlines

oremus

Robert Lewis
3 months 2 weeks ago

Then please tell me what you think are the implications of what the North Carolina Representative said about needing somebody who's married, with kids. That doesn't sound like anti-Catholicism to you?

Mike Escril
3 months 2 weeks ago

No, the NC rep may just want a family guy to be chaplain. Perfectly reasonable and not anti-Catholic at all.

You want to see anti-Catholicism, check out the policies of the Democratic Party.

Mike Escril
3 months 2 weeks ago

So you lost respect for Paul Ryan and are a registered Republican ?

Care to tell us what level of respect you have for Ted Kennedy, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and the rest of that ilk, etc. ?

Wilfreda Gonzalez
3 months 2 weeks ago

fake news

Diane Feinstein is the harborer of anti-Catholicism, not Speaker Ryan. Ryan is a devout practicing Catholic along with his wife and 3 children at St John Vianney Catholic Church in Janesville, WI

AM owes Speaker Ryan an apology for such calumny.

Mike Escril
3 months 2 weeks ago

Feinstein isn't the worst by a longshot. The Democratic Party reeks of anti-Catholic bigotry.

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