NEW YORK — In the latest twist in an unfolding drama over the forced departure of the chaplain to the House of Representatives, Father Patrick Conroy, who resigned in March following pressure from House Speaker Paul Ryan, has now rescinded his resignation.
In a two-page letter sent to Ryan on Thursday, 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.”
Both Conroy and Ryan are Catholics.
“It is my desire 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 membership of the House,” wrote Conroy.
In the letter, which was obtained by Crux, Conroy claims that his resignation was requested by Ryan’s Chief of Staff, Jonathan Burks. When Conroy requested reasoning, he said Burks said, “Maybe it’s time we had a Chaplain that wasn’t Catholic.”
According to Conroy, Burks also cited a prayer before Congress in November prior to debate on tax reform legislation as a reason for Ryan’s request.
Conroy’s decision to rescind his resignation comes one day after Republican Congressman Walter Jones, a Catholic, sent Ryan a strongly worded letter questioning his decision and demanding that he reinstate the chaplain for the remaining eight months of his term.
Jones said he was “dismayed” by the manner in which Conroy’s firing was handled, claiming it was “intentionally underhanded” and “deeply disappointing.”
Conroy was unanimously approved as House chaplain in May 2011, and it was announced in March that he was resigning his post. While many believed his departure from the post was voluntary, last week it was revealed that it actually came at Ryan’s request.
Conroy has maintained that Ryan requested his resignation due to the prayer on tax reform, which was deemed as too political. Ryan’s office has since claimed, however, that the decision to request Conroy’s resignation was due to complaints that he did not meet the “pastoral needs” of members of the House.
“No such criticism has ever been leveled against me during my tenure as House Chaplain,” wrote Conroy on Thursday. “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,” he wrote.