NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, May 3rd, 2018

Paul Ryan backs down; Patrick Conroy will remain in his post as U.S. House chaplain

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.”


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  1. Gov­ern­ment rev­enues — tax­es — should not be used to pay for any reli­gious exer­cise, and espe­cial­ly not in any tax-sup­port­ed facil­i­ty. This is a fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ple clear­ly enun­ci­at­ed by the Founders in the First Amend­ment to our U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion, although it is wide­ly and reg­u­lar­ly vio­lat­ed with­out penal­ty, espe­cial­ly by the Hyp­ocrite-in-Chief cur­rent­ly occu­py­ing the White House. 

    The wis­dom of the Founders is most recent­ly val­i­dat­ed by Speak­er Paul Ryan’s “fir­ing” the Catholic chap­lain of the House because Catholic Paul did not like his sermon!

    # by Elaine Phelps :: May 5th, 2018 at 12:37 AM
  2. Typ­i­cal Ryan behavior. 

    # by H. Wainwright :: May 20th, 2018 at 2:07 AM
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