Fr. Patrick Conry was fired as the chaplain of the House of Representatives by Roman Catholic Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, according to a resignation letter. This move — one which many Republicans are cheering — has been criticized by Democrats, who are staunch defenders of the Jesuit priest.
Fr. Patrick Conry wrote on April 15th in a letter first obtained by NBC News that he will be resigning at the request of Speaker Paul Ryan.
"As you have requested, I hereby offer my resignation as the 60th Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives," he said in the letter.
"The position is one which I did not seek nor strive to assume, but I have seen it as a blessing and I have considered it one of the great privileges of my life," Fr. Conroy continued.
Paul Ryan has publicly claimed that he is grateful for the services provided by Father Conroy, but there have been concerns by many that the chaplain has grown too partisan. According to NBC News, for instance, Conroy has been very blunt in his remarks about prayer, especially in his staunch criticism of the GOP tax bill.
The Washington Post writes that Paul Ryan has made no mention for his reasons behind Conroy's ousting, which, according to some, has left the impression that the priest was leaving voluntarily. It was only when the letter was obtained by the media that the issue blew up.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi disagreed with the decision and told Ryan that she had only heard good things about the priest. In response, Ryan's office disputed that Pelosi opposed the decision, claiming that Ryan wouldn't have taken action if she had fully objected in private.
“While it was the speaker’s decision, she and her office were fully read in, and did not object,” claimed Ryan's spokesperson, according to the Washington Post.
Although no information has been made available about why the Jesuit priest has been asked to resign, a bipartisan committee is being recommended to find a replacement.
Conroy is the second Catholic priest to serve as House chaplain, after the Rev. Daniel Coughlin, who was chosen for the position in 2000 after a months-long protest by Catholic lawmakers. Although a Catholic priest had been recommended for the post, Republican leaders instead chose a Presbyterian minister. After a fight ensued, Coughlin was eventually chosen for the post, thereby making history as the first Catholic chaplain in American history.
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