House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) last week backed down on his effort to dismiss Rev. Patrick J. Conroy, chaplain of the House of Representatives, which had angered lawmakers of both parties who demanded an explanation.
In a statement, Ryan said he accepted a request from Conroy to rescind his resignation letter, which Ryan had requested. “I have accepted Father Conroy’s letter and decided that he will remain in his position as Chaplain of the House,” said Ryan.
“My original decision was made in what I believed to be the best interest of this institution. 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 added, “It is my job as speaker to do what is best for this body. And I know that this body is not well served by a protracted fight over such an important post.”
In an interview with the New York Times, Father Conroy previously suggested Ryan might have fired him because of a prayer he gave in November about the new tax law.
“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 said 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.”
The Times reported that Rep. Peter J. King (R-NY), who attended a meeting with Ryan and fellow GOP lawmakers yesterday, said he had removed Father Conroy because of complaints about his availability and the quality of his pastoral care. However, King said he had never heard such complaints, and told the speaker that he needed to give a more public explanation.
“I said, ‘This issue is not going to go away quickly,’” Mr. King said, adding, “As far as the complaints, I never heard any of them.”
The Times also reported that the chaplain, in an interview with The National Journal, said that while he had never been asked to counsel a victim of sexual harassment or assault, he had handled cases of workplace abuse during his tenure in the House.
“Think about it: Who are the people that run for office?” he was quoted as saying. “Are they all highly skilled in every endeavor? No! They’re not. Many of them, I can tell you, don’t know how to say hello in the hallway, let alone work with office people that maybe they don’t think they have to listen to.”
Guess Ryan thinks the House chaplain should abide by the advice of the three wise monkeys, who said "Here no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil." But maybe Ryan, himself, should consider the advice of a fourth wise monkey and "do no evil."