House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiPelosi reiterates call to protect Mueller after new Trump tweet The Hill's 12:30 Report More than 5,000 OH ads have mentioned Clinton this year: report MORE (D-Calif.) on Thursday called for a further explanation of the circumstances behind the short-lived dismissal of Father Patrick Conroy as the House chaplain.
In a letter to Ryan Thursday, Rev. Patrick J. Conroy accused Ryan's chief of staff, Jonathan Burks, of saying "something like 'maybe it's time that we had a Chaplain that wasn't a Catholic, '" when the chaplain asked him if he was being asked to resign "for cause".
Ryan responded in a statement saying that "I have accepted Father Conroy's letter and decided that he will remain in his position as chaplain of the House". "And a number of our members felt like the pastoral services were not being adequately served, or offered", Ryan said at an event in Milwaukee earlier this week. Conroy went on to state vehemently: "In fact, no such criticism has ever been levelled against me during my tenure as a House chaplain".
Conroy spelled out in the most detail yet his April 13 confrontation with Burks that set the stage for his resignation days later. "I strongly disagree with Father Conroy's recollection of our conversation", said the Republican staffer.
For the House chaplain to push back so publicly against the House speaker was remarkable. In his letter to Ryan on Thursday, the priest said he meant to serve out his current two-year term and possibly "beyond", unless he is officially terminated or not re-elected.
Conroy was a popular teacher, coach and adviser at Beaverton's Jesuit High School, serving on the staff from 2004 until 2011, when he was tapped to be House chaplain. The letter, which was first reported by the Washington Post, said Conroy had not been told of any problems with his performance and said that he would like to serve at least the remainder of his two-year term. "To be clear, that decision was based on my duty to ensure that the House has the kind of pastoral services that it deserves".
Conroy wrote that he initially gave into pressure to resign, believing that Ryan had the power to fire him but believes now that Ryan pressured him into resigning for lack of cause. The rule specifically leaves out the chaplain as to who can be removed by the speaker. It will be up to the leaders of the next Congress to decide whether to keep Conroy or consider a new chaplain.
"Speaker Ryan's decision to accept Father Conroy's decision to rescind his resignation and finish his term is welcome news", Pelosi said.
According to a separate report last week in the Hill, Rep. Mark Walker, North Carolina Republican, had said the next chaplain should be someone with a family - which would exclude Catholic priests and nuns, who take vows of celibacy.
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