House Chaplain Says He's Not Resigning After All

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Peter King of NY and Walter B. Jones of North Carolina, have joined with Democrats to raise questions about the speaker's decision to force out Conroy.

House Speaker Paul Ryan reversed his decision to oust House chaplain Patrick Conroy on Thursday after Conroy challenged his forced resignation and essentially dared Ryan to fire him.

UPDATE, 6:25 p.m.: In a statement, Ryan said he had accepted Conroy's letter and "decided that he will remain in his position as Chaplain of the House".

Ryan's announcement comes hours after Rev. Patrick Conroy said he would withdraw his resignation in a caustic letter charging that a top Ryan aide told him "something like 'maybe it's time that we had a Chaplain that wasn't a Catholic'".

Conroy's prayer drew immediate criticism from the Speaker's office, the chaplain said.

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"At this time, and upon advice of counsel, I herby retract and rescind said resignation for the reasons that follow", Conroy wrote in the letter dated Thursday and addressed to Ryan. Conroy alleged Jonathan Burks, Ryan's chief of staff, had said "maybe it's time we had a chaplain that wasn't a Catholic" during an April 13 private meeting in which Burks informed Conroy that the speaker wanted him to step down. The chaplain, an officer of the House, is elected at the start of each Congress to a two-year term. "All members were not asked for their opinions on the chaplain's performance", Jones said in the letter.

Conroy, a Jesuit priest, resigned April 15 after he spent almost seven years praying at the outset of House sessions. "And a number of our members felt like the pastoral services were not being adequately served, or offered", Ryan said at an event in Milwaukee earlier this week.

Ryan's press office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. "My original decision was made in what I believed to be the best interest of this institution". Shortly after, he said in the interview with The New York Times, he was admonished by Ryan, who views the tax overhaul as his signature achievement.

Conroy chose to fight Ryan's move to oust him - telling the Republican leader on Thursday he wanted to retract the resignation letter he submitted at Ryan's direction last month. 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. Ryan says he'll accept it and that Conroy will stay in his job. Conroy said Burks mentioned a prayer the priest gave regarding last year's tax legislation and "dismissively" suggested that the position should be filled by someone who isn't Catholic. "This was not about politics or prayers; it was about pastoral services".

Conroy made a decision to rescind his resignation - which was set to be effective May 24 - because he questioned whether Ryan has the authority to fire him without cause, and he pushed back at the allegation that his ministry to the Capitol Hill community was lacking.