Jesuit priest remains House Chaplain in new Congress

Jesuit Father Patrick J. Conroy is pictured in a 2017 photo. Lawmakers voted late Jan. 3 to keep him, the 60th chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives, in the post for the next two years. He began his term May 25, 2011. (CNS photo/Rhina Guidos) Jesuit Father Patrick J. Conroy is pictured in a 2017 photo. Lawmakers voted late Jan. 3 to keep him, the 60th chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives, in the post for the next two years. He began his term May 25, 2011. (CNS photo/Rhina Guidos) 

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A Jesuit whom former Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan sought to oust in 2018 will remain in his post as chaplain of the legislative body as the 116th session of Congress begins.

Lawmakers voted late Jan. 3 to keep Jesuit Father Patrick J. Conroy, the 60th chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives, in the post for the next two years. He began his term May 25, 2011.

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Some suspect that one of Father Conroy's prayers in 2017 is what moved former House speaker Ryan to try to oust the chaplain. Ryan was then trying to garner votes to pass a tax overhaul bill.

As the House chaplain, Father Conroy, 68, is responsible for offering a prayer at the beginning of each day when Congress is in session. The nondenominational prayer in the House chamber is broadcast live on HouseLive.gov and on C-Span. It's also archived in the Congressional Record and is part of the official rules of the House to get the day started.

But some suspect that one of Father Conroy's prayers in 2017 is what moved former House speaker Ryan to try to oust the chaplain. Ryan was then trying to garner votes to pass a tax overhaul bill.

"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," Father Conroy said in a Nov. 6, 2017, prayer, a time when lawmakers were debating how some of the proposed tax laws would affect the rich and the poor.

The following April, Ryan, also a Catholic, asked the chaplain for his resignation, sparking a firestorm of outrage from both sides of the political aisle and even calls for an investigation into whether Ryan could single handedly fire the priest as chaplain. Two weeks later, the chaplain rescinded his resignation and Ryan accepted it. Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, announced in April 2018 that he would not be seeking re-election.

California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, a Catholic who as Minority Leader approved the selection of Father Conroy as chaplain in 2011, was sworn in as Speaker of the House Jan.3, but it was Republican John Boehner, then the Speaker of the House, who handpicked the Jesuit.

Father Conroy, a lawyer, welcomed Pope Francis during his visit to Congress in 2015. In the past, he ministered to students for 10 years at Georgetown University in Washington, worked at an American Indian reservation in Washington state, and also taught high school students in Portland, Oregon.

"The Jesuits didn't come looking for this job, for this position, but it was a natural," Father Conroy told Catholic News Service in a 2017 interview. "It's in our DNA, and sure, if having a Jesuit would be of assistance to the men and women of Congress and the work that they're doing, by all means."

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Scott Cooper
5 months 2 weeks ago

Like John Horvat’s ultra-conservative organization, I have come to find America, which I once loved and even to which I once submitted poetry as part of your annual competition, to be solely intent on pushing its singular left-wing agenda. What is a middle-of-the-road and common-sense Catholic to do these days to find a balanced political view faithful to Christ’s teachings?
Nancy D. Pelosi as a champion of Catholic values? Why has the Church not excommunicated her and other public Catholics-in-name-only for their scandalous public affronts to, and assaults on, the sanctity of life, marriage, family, and human sexuality? I hesitate to even mention, but I must, the Democratic Party’s (of which I was once a proud partisan for most of my political life) agenda of keeping minorities and the poor forever dependent on their condescending and ineffectual identity politics
As I recently did with Mr Horvat’s emails, I will be unsubscribing to America. I only wish I was not subjected to your slanted views on my beloved Catholic Channel on SiriusXM. Can no one see how the ultra-left and the ultra-right fold back on themselves and are more similar than everything in between as they seek to opress common sense, individuality, and the common good? Look to the Spanish Civil War in the last century to see the true clash and the true cost of fascism and communism, both bent on totalitarianism and authoritarianism. I fear that is where we are headed in the US. Ivory towers are very safe and comfortable places from which to pontificate and lay blame. Shame on all those at both ends of the political spectrum who hold a supposedly superior and higher moral ground. I pray for you all daily, but until you seek repentance, a pox on both your houses.

Scott Cooper
5 months 2 weeks ago

Like John Horvat’s ultra-conservative organization, I have come to find America, which I once loved and even to which I once submitted poetry as part of your annual competition, to be solely intent on pushing its singular left-wing agenda. What is a middle-of-the-road and common-sense Catholic to do these days to find a balanced political view faithful to Christ’s teachings?
Nancy D. Pelosi as a champion of Catholic values? Why has the Church not excommunicated her and other public Catholics-in-name-only for their scandalous public affronts to, and assaults on, the sanctity of life, marriage, family, and human sexuality? I hesitate to even mention, but I must, the Democratic Party’s (of which I was once a proud partisan for most of my political life) agenda of keeping minorities and the poor forever dependent on their condescending and ineffectual identity politics
As I recently did with Mr Horvat’s emails, I will be unsubscribing to America. I only wish I was not subjected to your slanted views on my beloved Catholic Channel on SiriusXM. Can no one see how the ultra-left and the ultra-right fold back on themselves and are more similar than everything in between as they seek to opress common sense, individuality, and the common good? Look to the Spanish Civil War in the last century to see the true clash and the true cost of fascism and communism, both bent on totalitarianism and authoritarianism. I fear that is where we are headed in the US. Ivory towers are very safe and comfortable places from which to pontificate and lay blame. Shame on all those at both ends of the political spectrum who hold a supposedly superior and higher moral ground. I pray for you all daily, but until you seek repentance, a pox on both your houses.

Joan Sheridan
5 months 2 weeks ago

Is Nancy Polisi a practicing Catholic? I doubt it. But is Paul Ryan who I am told supported Trump in keeping out those seeking asylum any better?

Scott Cooper
5 months 2 weeks ago

Ms. Sheridan, I believe that Ms, Pelosi, who grew up here as I did in my home city of Baltimore where I am old enough to remember her brother Tommy as mayor, does see herself as a practicing and faithful Catholic. She has said as much in interviews and speeches, often to justify her support for things such as abortion and other “causes” antithetical to Church teachings. Mr. Ryan, on the other hand, has evidenced an adherence to Church teachings in his public life. Advocating for or against this or that tax plan or health care reimbursement is not the same as publically advocating for the legalization and financial support of on-demand destruction of innocent human life.
And lest we forget, many Catholic politicians supported, and continue to support, President Bill Clinton, a soul as misguided and repugnant in his treatment of others, especially vulnerable women, as President Trump has shown himself to be.
We are a nation of laws and of compassion. The illegal immigration problem must be viewed through both these lenses.
Many of those seeking asylum are being used and abused by the drug cartels and their coyotes and are not being protected by their own government.
Perhaps we need to restore an orderly way for people to enter this country so that we can ensure it our security and help those seeking to contribute to our nation and a better life for themselves.
These things are not mutually exclusive, though many politicians on both sides of the aisle would have us believe so for their own political gain and for their own desire to maintain power.
As a uniformed and federal public servant for over 20 years, and having medically served the underserved in our nation’s federal prison system (back in the days when there were very few ICE detention centers, so we housed illegal aliens, many of whom had only committed illegal entry, with violent federal inmates), I have directly followed our Church’s and Christ’s teachings regarding social justice as most eloquently spoken by Christ in Matthew’s Gospel.
But I am also reminded by my 19-yo son of the recent murder of Officer Singh at the hands of a violent illegal alien who was sheltered and protected by one of our illegal “sanctuary” states and also of the toll that is being taken on our limited federal health resources (provided by uniformed officers with whom I proudly serve) by these many asylum seekers while our own people, especially our suffering veterans of all ages, go without care.
It is not enough to say “what about Trump” and lay blame on those “deplorable” who support him. We must do what is best for our nation first so that we might then more effectually reach out to those who are suffering next door and further abroad.
God’s blessings and the Peace of Christ to you and your loved ones in the New Year. Respectfully, Scott

FRAN ABBOTT
5 months 2 weeks ago

I am truly perplexed about how a purely factual article merits such angry
comments. I am glad that Fr. Conroy has retained his position and don’t understand why any reader of America wouldn’t be.

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