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House chaplain unleashes holy fury in letter to Paul Ryan
May 25 2018, 03:06 | Irvin Gilbert
House Chaplain Rescinds Resignation, Forcing Confrontation
The U.S. House chaplain who Speaker Paul Ryan tried to dismiss last month has rescinded his resignation, setting up a standoff with the lame-duck speaker just months before a hard midterm election for Republicans. The speaker added that he would meet with Conroy next week.
When Conroy asked why, "Mr. Burks mentioned dismissively something like 'maybe it's time that we had a chaplain that wasn't a Catholic, '" Conroy stated in the letter. He notes that though Ryan said Conroy's "pastoral services" had been insufficient as the reason for his departure, the chaplain says he was never given any indication that he wasn't living up to his duties.
In his letter to Speaker Ryan explaining the priest's reasoning for his change of heart, Conroy said: "I have never been disciplined, nor reprimanded, nor have I ever heard a complaint about my ministry during my time as House chaplain".
"I have accepted Father Conroy's letter and decided that he will remain in his position as Chaplain of the House", Ryan said, according to The Hill.
"My original decision was made in what I believed to be the best interest of this institution".
During a conference earlier this week, Ryan insisted his decision to oust Conroy wasn't political, but performance-based, "and a number of our members felt like the pastoral services were not being adequately served, or offered". Ryan has said he was dissatisfied with Conroy's pastoral care to lawmakers. 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.
He continued: "At that point, I thought that I had little choice but to resign, as my assumption was that you had the absolute prerogative and authority to end my term as House chaplain".
In a two-page letter to the speaker, the Jesuit priest said he wished to serve out his term, arguing he had succumbed to pressure from Ryan's staff, believing the speaker had the power to fire him, but later came to believe he was forced out without due cause.
Burks also denied Conroy's allegations in his own statement. "In retracting my resignation I wish to do just that". Conroy said Thursday that wasn't the reason Burks gave in seeking his resignation, and said he "would have attempted to make the appropriate adjustments", had he known about any shortcoming. "I am disappointed by the misunderstanding, but wish him the best as he continues to serve the House".