Ryan Reinstates House Chaplain After Priest Decided to Fight Dismissal

Speaker Paul D. Ryan reinstated the Rev. Patrick J. Conroy as the chaplain of the House of Representatives on Thursday, after the chaplain sent him a letter rescinding his forced resignation and daring the speaker to fire him.

“I have accepted Father Conroy’s letter and decided that he will remain in his position as chaplain of the House,” Mr. Ryan said in a statement. He added, “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 post.”

Father Conroy, a Catholic priest who has been the chaplain since 2011, intimated in a letter to Mr. Ryan on Thursday that the speaker did not have the authority to fire him, noting that the chaplain, who is selected by the speaker, is elected by the members of the House. He suggested his Catholic faith had contributed to his dismissal.

And in an interview, Father Conroy said he had hired a lawyer to press his case. “This is so contentious, and I think it is so historic,” Father Conroy said, adding, “It’s not over.”

After Mr. Ryan reversed course, the chaplain accepted some responsibility in the debacle.

“We both acknowledged that we need to talk about how I can improve my performance so the chaplaincy operates for as many members as possible,” he said. “I don’t know any pastor or any chaplain anywhere that doesn’t have some detractors. That is the human condition. My problem is I was never told that that was the case.”

Father Conroy said he and Mr. Ryan will sit down together on Tuesday when the House is back in session.

At least one Catholic Republican welcomed the news.

“This should never have happened. He’s a good man, he’s a good chaplain and if they want to make a change, this is not the way to do it,” said a surprised Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York, who had been critical of the speaker’s decision. “He deserved better and now he’s gotten better.”

Mr. King said that he understood why the chaplain complained: “It’s a cloud over the Jesuit order, it’s a cloud over him if he goes out with this.”

Read the full story at The New York Times


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