The Catholic priest tapped to be House chaplain may be in the clear, at least in the eyes of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, after questions were raised about the child abuse settlement recently struck by the Jesuit group he works for.
The nomination of Rev. Patrick Conroy briefly hit a hurdle over concerns about the $166 million settlement reached in March between Conroy's Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus and hundreds of sexual abuse victims. Pelosi, who earlier this month along with House Speaker John Boehner had endorsed Conroy for chaplain, apparently had not been told about the case.
Her office, citing the congresswoman's sympathy for the families, decided to take another look at the nomination based on new information provided by Boehner's office.
But by Wednesday evening, Pelosi came back around to Conroy's side.
"Father Conroy has responded to additional questions posed to him. Based on his answers, the Leader sees no obstacle to him being named Chaplain," Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said in a statement.
Boehner's office continued to stand by Conroy all along, considering the abuse settlement stemmed from complaints in the 1960s and 1970s mostly before Conroy became a Jesuit.
Boehner spokesman Michael Steel noted that the settlement was "public knowledge," having been reported on in The New York Times and other publications.
"This is guilt-by-association, and it's disgraceful. The settlement has nothing to do with Fr. Conroy," Steel told Fox News. "Both Speaker Boehner and Democratic Leader Pelosi reviewed Fr. Conroy's background before the speaker selected him. The speaker is confident he will be a great chaplain for the House of Representatives."
The settlement struck in March was the largest in history from a Catholic religious order. The Oregon province covers several northwestern states, and the sexual abuse claims came largely from Native American communities.