House Chaplain Rev. Patrick Conroy spoke out in a Thursday New York Times report about his firing, confirming that he was blindsided by Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) decision and was never told why he has been dismissed.
“I was asked to resign, that is clear,” Conroy told the New York Times. He added that it is “unclear” why.
“I certainly wasn’t given anything in writing,” he continued. “Catholic members on both sides are furious.”
The only possible rationale Conroy could identify is a prayer he delivered the day that the House was marking up the GOP tax bill.
“May all members be mindful that the institutions and structures of our great nation guarantee the opportunities that have allowed some to achieve great success, while others continue to struggle,” he prayed then. “May their efforts these days guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans.”
According to the New York Times, Ryan approached him a week after the prayer, warning him to stay out of politics.
Conroy reportedly said that he had never been scolded for being too political in his seven years in the House, adding that just as a hospital chaplain prays about health issues, the chaplain for Congress prays about the politics of the day.
Though Conroy does not plan to fight his dismissal, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are irate about the decision and seeking answers. Per the New York Times, Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) and Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA) are leading the charge to collect signatures on a letter to Ryan demanding his rationale and the standards to which future chaplains will be held.
Conroy, a Jesuit and only the second Catholic to ever hold the post, has served since being nominated by former speaker John Boehner (R-OH) in 2011. His last day is scheduled for May 24.