House Chaplain Rescinds Resignation, Forcing Confrontation

WASHINGTON — The chaplain of the House of Representatives, who was recently forced to resign by Speaker Paul D. Ryan, said Thursday that he is rescinding his decision — in effect forcing Mr. Ryan to try to fire him.

Father Patrick J. Conroy, a Catholic priest who has been the chaplain since 2011, wrote in a letter to Mr. Ryan that he would like to serve out his full two-year term, “and possibly beyond,” unless he is officially terminated. He also intimated that Mr. Ryan does not have the authority to fire him, noting that the chaplain, who is selected by the speaker, is elected by the members of the House.

[Read the letter.]

“I have never been disciplined, nor reprimanded, nor have I ever heard a complaint about my ministry during my time as House Chaplain,” he wrote.

Complaining that Mr. Ryan never spoke to him in person, Father Conroy also suggested his Catholic faith played a role in his dismissal. When Mr. Ryan’s chief of staff, Jonathan Burks, informed him that the speaker was asking for his letter of resignation, he wrote, “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.’”