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".
"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", Conroy wrote to Ryan. But there were mixed messages, some of them highly unfortunate, like that of U.S. Rep. Mark Walker, a member of the search committee for a new chaplain, who allowed as how the House needed someone who personally knew what it was like to deal with a complaining wife and a misbehaving kid - a job description that would exclude, of course, Catholics and probably women.
"I 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, '" Conroy wrote.
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.
Ryan "didn't say this as bluntly but the reason for the change is that many of us like Father Conroy but we feel like he didn't do anything", another unnamed Republican told CNN.
In recent days, the drama of Paul Ryan's exit as House Speaker has been eclipsed by another saga: Ryan's protracted feud with a 67-year-old Jesuit priest. Conroy told reporters Thursday afternoon, before Ryan issued his statement, that the "story's not over".
Conroy had tendered his resignation as House chaplain on April 15.
Conroy also wrote that Burks mentioned a November prayer regarding the GOP tax bill that upset many Republicans.
Instead, Conroy says top Ryan aide Jonathan Burks told him the speaker wanted his resignation, and cited a prayer past year that was potentially critical of the GOP tax bill. Some Democrats speculated (an impression Conroy reinforced) that a "political" prayer that might have been construed as disrespecting that great golden calf of tax cuts had gotten him cashiered.
"To be clear, that decision was based on my duty to ensure that the House has the kind of pastoral services that it deserves", Ryan said. The rule specifically leaves out the chaplain as to who can be removed by the speaker.
The chaplain had prayed for "balanced" tax reform that helps ameliorate income inequality.
Ryan's aides were still waiting to fully read the letter and said the office would comment later Thursday.
Earlier this week, Ryan discussed his decision to fire Conroy at a conservative summit hosted by The Weekly Standard.
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