And so ends the long saga of the gym rat House Speaker and the ousted House Chaplain. After reportedly firing Rev. Pat Conroy last month, Paul Ryan has now agreed to reinstate him. This turn of events came on the heels of a rather fiery letter from Conroy that basically told Ryan he’d vacate his post over his dead body.
The New York Times reports that Ryan issued a statement Thursday evening confirming Conroy would keep his job. “I have accepted Father Conroy’s letter and decided that he will remain in his position as chaplain of the House,” Ryan said. “It is my job as speaker to do what is best for this body, and I know that this body is not well served by a protracted fight over such an important post.”
It’s not entirely clear why Ryan tried to oust him in the first place—in April, Conroy tendered his resignation, and Ryan claimed he hadn’t fired him. But reports and other elected officials suggested Ryan pushed the chaplain out, and Ryan later said he asked Conroy to leave over a job performance issue. Conroy wrote Ryan a two-page letter on Thursday afternoon that rescinded that aforementioned resignation.
“’You may wish to outright ‘fire’ me, if you have the authority to do so, but should you wish to terminate my services, it will be without my offer of resignation, as you requested,” Conroy wrote, further alleging that it was his Catholicism that led to his ousting, as well as a national prayer he made criticizing Ryan’s signature tax overhaul. Later, Conroy said in an interview, “This is so contentious, and I think it is so historic. It’s not over.”
It appears that it is over now. Conroy told the Times it’s possible his ousting wasn’t entirely a petty move on Ryan’s part. “We both acknowledged that we need to talk about how I can improve my performance so the chaplaincy operates for as many members as possible,” he told the paper. “I don’t know any pastor or any chaplain anywhere that doesn’t have some detractors. That is the human condition. My problem is I was never told that that was the case.”
Conroy and Ryan are expected to meet with each other sometime next week to hash things out, which sounds like it’ll be a tad awkward, but I suppose you do what you have to to get paid.