Sometime around Easter, the Rev. Pat Conroy was called into House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office, where Conroy claims he was told to submit a letter of resignation.
He claims he was not given a reason for why he needed to resign, and that in fact, he was only told that he needed to resign.
“I was asked to resign, that is clear,” Conroy told the New York Times. But he added that the reason “is unclear” and that he “certainly wasn’t given anything in writing.” He also noted, “Catholic members on both sides are furious.”
Conroy’s last day as house chaplain is slated for May 24, and members on both sides of the aisle have been wondering why Conroy, who was nominated by former House Speaker John Boehner in May 2011, will soon be without a job.
New York Republican Rep. Pete King told CNN that his conversation with Ryan about the Jesuit priest’s sudden resignation was “unsatisfactory.”
“To me, it was an unsatisfactory answer,” King said. “It is such an unprecedented action to only be taken for very, very serious issues. And the speaker said it was just because certain people said he was not complying with their request or was not giving good counsel. I never heard that from anyone. Anyone who I know who deals with him has the highest regard for him.”
According to CNN, Ryan has only alluded to some issues that some members have had with Conroy, but he’s never stated exactly what those issues are. Many members of Congress say they believe a prayer Conroy gave on the House floor on Nov. 6, in which he referenced Donald Trump’s tax plan, may have led to his ouster.
“As legislation on taxes continues to be debated this week and next, 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,” Conroy said in the prayer, according to Roll Call. “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 move to oust Conroy feels vindictive to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who issued a statement to CNN regarding Conroy’s forced resignation.
“It is truly sad that he made this decision, and it is especially bewildering that he did so only a matter of months before the end of his term,” Pelosi said. “The speaker did this knowing that he had no power to fire Father Conroy and instead chose to force him out by demanding his resignation.”