The world woke to the resignation of the Chaplain of the House of Representatives Rev. Patrick Conroy—but not of his own volition.
According to an April 15 letter made public this week, Conroy wrote to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan: “As you have requested, I hereby offer my resignation as the 60th Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives. 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.”
Conroy has served as House Chaplain since 2011, when he was appointed by then-Speaker John Boehner. The Jesuit priest reportedly drafted a second letter as well, which did not mention the request for resignation. This letter states that his last day as chaplain will be May 24.
Ryan’s spokeswoman, AshLee Strong, has denied that Conroy was forced to resign. “The speaker consulted with the minority leader [Nancy Pelosi], but the decision was his,” Strong said. “He remains grateful for Father Conroy’s service.”
While the first letter suggests that Conroy resigned at Ryan’s prompting, the reasons behind Ryan’s apparent request are not immediately clear. Nevertheless, the move has angered members of both parties.
A bipartisan group of House members is drafting a letter to Ryan, asking that he explain why he asked Conroy to resign. Four sources, two from each party, told The Hill that Conroy said he was told that he “must retire or that he would be dismissed.”