Democrats upset about chaplain firing

Rev. Patrick Conroy at Jesuit High in 2012. Doug Beghtel The Oregonian

According to the House guidelines on the chaplaincy, the chaplaincy is a tradition handed down from the Continental Congress. During the closed-door meeting, Ryan defended his ouster of Chaplain of the House of Representatives Father Patrick J. Conroy.

U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., was more critical. Conway's term as chaplain began in 2011.

Ryan told Republican lawmakers in a closed-door meeting that he forced Conroy out because he wasn't doing a very good job tending to the pastoral needs of lawmakers and that lawmakers had brought concerns to him. "I would ask that rhetorically back to him", said Rep. "To me it was not a satisfactory answer".

"You asking me this question?" "But it's really a sad state of affairs", she said.

Fights in Congress are nothing new, but no one can ever recall a dispute over the House chaplain.

He continued: "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".

About a week later, Conroy told the Times, he heard from the speaker's office.

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"A staffer came down and said, 'We are upset with this prayer; you are getting too political, '" Conroy said.

Conroy declined CBS News' request for an interview, but told The New York Timeshe wasn't given a formal explanation for his dismissal.

Democrats called this move offensive and outrageous without an explanation.

Rep. Mark Walker, of Alabama, said he has heard of members who took issue with Conroy, as claimed by Ryan, and suggested a non-Catholic would be better for the post of Chaplain. But Ryan assured members that was not the reason for Conroy's firing.

In his letter of resignation, Conroy made clear that he was leaving at Ryan's request.

Several Democrats used the lack of guidelines to say Ryan did not have the authority under House rules to dismiss Conroy.

Conroy's resignation letter said he was offering to step down at Ryan's request, calling his seven years of House service "one of the great privileges of my life".

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Conroy has served as the chamber's chaplain since 2011 but offered his resignation last week at Ryan's urging.

Former chaplains served from two to twenty-one years. He graduated from Claremont Men's College in California in 1972, and has three master's degrees in philosophy (Gonzaga University, Spokane, 1977), divinity (Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, 1983) and sacred theology (Regis College of the University of Toronto, 1984), and a law degree from St. Louis University (1979).

Conroy is a Roman Catholic priest from the Jesuit order.

Another Republican member, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Ryan said he's gotten feedback from numerous members over the previous year or so that they'd like a more active spiritual adviser who is more engaged with members and more approachable. After a protracted fight, Coughlin was chosen for the post, making history as the first Catholic chaplain.

Ryan consulted with Pelosi before making the move. Doug Collins, to lead a bipartisan group of members to look for the next chaplain. Rep. His last day is May 24, the Times reported.

That outraged some Catholics, who felt Walker was eliminating Catholic priests from consideration due to their vows of celibacy.

The fiasco culminated on Friday when Rep. Joe Crowley, who chairs the House Democratic Caucus, triggered a vote with a privileged resolution that would have created a select committee to investigate Conroy's dismissal.

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Now lawmakers from both parties are wondering why Conroy was forced out and are concerned that his political views may have played a part.

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