House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) reversed course Thursday and agreed to keep the Rev. Patrick J. Conroy on as House chaplain after an extraordinary showdown that included the priest alleging anti-Catholic bias among Ryan’s staff.
Conroy, who had agreed to resign under pressure last month, sent Ryan a letter rescinding his resignation. Within hours, Ryan backed down and agreed to leave Conroy in his post at least through the end of the year, ending the possibility of what Ryan feared would be a “protracted fight” over what is supposed to be a unifying and spiritual position in the partisan chamber.
Ryan defended his original decision and continued to question whether Conroy was delivering sufficient “pastoral services” to the entire House. “I intend to sit down with Father Conroy early next week so that we can move forward for the good of the whole House,” Ryan said.
The decision capped a highly unusual dispute between the Catholic speaker, who announced last month that he would retire so he could spend time with his teenage children, and a Jesuit priest who has spent seven years serving as the spiritual adviser to 435 lawmakers and thousands of congressional staff.