WASHINGTON – House Speaker Paul Ryan met Tuesday with the House chaplain he ousted last month, then reinstated after the chaplain complained a Ryan aide told him it might be time to put a non-Catholic in the job.
Ryan told reporters he and the Rev. Patrick Conroy talked about how to improve pastoral services over coffee Tuesday.
Just last month Ryan instructed top aide Jonathan Burks to demand Conroy’s resignation, saying he was dissatisfied with Conroy’s pastoral services.
Conroy said he wasn’t told of deficiencies in his performance. He sent a scalding letter to Ryan alleging Burks told him “maybe it’s time that we had a Chaplain that wasn’t a Catholic.” Conroy is a Roman Catholic priest from the Jesuit order.
Burks denied the allegation but Ryan reversed course and reinstated Conroy. Ryan said that it would not be healthy for the House to keep battling over the chaplain.
Democrats howled when Conroy was forced out, charging that a November prayer regarding the GOP tax bill that upset many Republicans was behind the move.
Conroy had prayed for lawmakers to make sure that “there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans.”
Conroy told The New York Times that shortly afterward Ryan warned Conroy to “stay out of politics.” Conroy also invited a Muslim cleric last year to give the opening prayer, a move that Democrats say may have upset GOP conservatives.
On Tuesday, Ryan sought to put the controversy behind him.
“Father Pat and I had a good cup of coffee this morning. We talked about how to improve the services going forward,” said Ryan, R-Wis. “We’re going to keep talking and I feel good about where things are.”