Turns out Patrick Conroy isn’t going anywhere after all.
The veteran United States House chaplain, a beloved Jesuit priest, will continue with his ministry to the chamber’s four hundred and thirty five voting members after Speaker Paul Ryan backed down and assented to Conroy’s wish to rescind the resignation he had unhappily offered last month at Ryan’s behest.
“I have accepted Father Conroy’s letter and decided that he will remain in his position as Chaplain of the House,” said Ryan, not bothering to acknowledge that he lacked the power to unilaterally force out Conroy in the first place.
“My original decision was made in what I believed to be the best interest of this institution. To be clear, that decision was based on my duty to ensure that the House has the kind of pastoral services that it deserves. 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. I intend to sit down with Father Conroy early next week so that we can move forward for the good of the whole House.”
“Father Conroy’s service as House Chaplain has been a blessing to Members on both sides of the aisle,” said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi in response.
“Speaker Ryan’s decision to accept Father Conroy’s decision to rescind his resignation and finish his term is welcome news.”
“However, many distressing questions must still be answered about the motivations behind Father Conroy’s unwarranted and unjust dismissal.”
“Father Pat has served the House honorably for more than seven years, and I’m glad that he will remain the House Chaplain. Still, because there are conflicting reports and questions left unanswered, we need a full understanding of what happened,” Democratic Caucus Chair Joseph Crowley of New York said.
“This is why I’ve called for a select committee to lead an inquiry into the events leading up to his abrupt dismissal. I hope Republicans will join Democrats to help us get the facts and ensure that something like this doesn’t happen again.”
The retraction (and acceptance) of Conroy’s forced resignation ends an embarrassing multi-week saga that has served as a fresh reminder of Paul Ryan’s ineptitude.
Conroy did his country and the House a great service by deciding to challenge his forced ouster. His boldness and resilient spirit have carried the day. Below is a copy of the scathing letter Conroy sent to Ryan today.
Dear Speaker Ryan:
As you know, by letter of April 15, 2018, tendered my resignation of the position of Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives (hereinafter “House Chaplain”) to you, effective May 24, 2018. At this time, and upon advice of counsel. I hereby retract and rescind said resignation for the reasons that follow.
I was elected as House Chaplain on May 25, 2011, and I have honorably served in that role since that time. was re-elected House Chaplain in every succeeding Congress. have never been disciplined, nor reprimanded, nor have I ever heard a complaint about my ministry during my time as House Chaplain. It is my desire to continue to serve as House Chaplain in this 115th United States Congress to the end of my current two-year term, and beyond, unless my services are officially terminated (however that is properly done) or I am not re-elected to the position by the membership of the House.
While you never spoke with me in person, nor did you send me any
correspondence, on Friday, April 2018, your Chief of Staff, Jonathan
Burks, came to me and informed me that you were asking for my letter of resignation. inquired as to whether or not it was “for cause.” and Mr. Burks mentioned dismissively something like “maybe it’s time that we had a Chaplain that wasn’t a Catholic.” He also mentioned my November prayer and an interview with the National Journal Daily.
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.
Recently, on April 27, you publicly indicated that my “pastoral services” to some Members were lacking and that I did not offer adequate “spiritual counseling” to others. This is not the reason that Mr. Burks gave me when asking for my “resignation.” In fact, no such criticism has ever been leveled against me during my tenure as House Chaplain. At the very least, if it were. I could have attempted to correct such “faults.” In retracting my resignation I wish to do just that.
I also write this letter because I do not wish to have my “resignation” be construed as a “constructive termination.”
You may wish to outright “fire” me, if you have the authority to do so, but should you wish to terminate my services, it will be without my offer of resignation, as you requested.
Since soon after i submitted my letter of April 15 I chose to remain silent about this matter despite numerous requests from the media. There has been much said in conjecture about my leaving the Chaplain’s Office, much of it damaging to the reputation of the House and the integrity of the Office of the Chaplain.
Had I known of any failure in providing my ministry to the House, I would have attempted to make the appropriate adjustments, but in no case would I have agreed to submit a letter of resignation without being given that opportunity. Therefore, I wish to serve the remainder of my term as House Chaplain, unless terminated “for cause.”
Please be guided accordingly and kindly provide confirmation of your recognition of this letter and my retraction of resignation no later than May 12, 2018. Thank you.
“Lord, Ryan is so inept he can’t even fire somebody right,” wryly noted one Washington Post commenter. “Not that Father Conroy should have been fired,
but Ryan with all his self-proclaimed power couldn’t even make it stick.”
“Ryan, the invertebrate, again fails to meet a challenge with courage,” agreed another commenter. “Now don’t get me wrong, the challenge was a stupid one, but when will this guy ever stand for HIS beliefs even when they are dead wrong?”
“Father Conroy isn’t Speaker Ryan’s priest,” pointed out yet another commenter. “When you go against the Society of Jesus, you better bring your A game. Must have been an interesting confession on Ryan’s part.”