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Dismissal of House chaplain sparks uproar of criticism

Rev. Patrick J. Conroy, chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Rev. Patrick J. Conroy, chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives, blessing the walnut tree planted in memory of Rep. Louise Slaughter. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Reverend Patrick J. Conroy, the House chaplain since 2011, was abruptly dismissed by Speaker Paul Ryan, the New York Times reports, causing an "uproar...over religion."

The details: Per the Times, some Republicans demanded an explanation for the dismissal, and Democrats called for an investigation, but the move re-ignited "long-simmering tensions between Roman Catholics and evangelical Christians" over who should have the position. Ryan, who is a Roman Catholic, said his decision stemmed from the chaplain's "pastoral care," not politics, or a prayer he gave in November that Ryan took issue with.

The prayer in question: While the House was debating tax reform, Conroy prayed for members to "guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans." Afterwards, per the Times, Ryan told Conroy: "Padre, you just got to stay out of politics."

Ryan's spokeswoman AshLee Strong told the Times that Ryan "made the decision he believes to be in the best interest of the House."

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