Ryan allows Rev. Patrick Conroy to keep job after House chaplain rescinds resignation

House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday he is allowing Rev. Patrick Conroy to keep his job as chaplain of the House of Representatives following outrage over Ryan's attempt to oust him from the role.

Conroy on Thursday wrote in a two-page letter to Ryan, the retiring Wisconsin Republican, that he has never "heard a complaint about my ministry" as House chaplain and was rescinding his resignation.

In response to the letter, Ryan announced that Conroy would keep his job, after all.

“I have accepted Father Conroy’s letter and decided that he will remain in his position as Chaplain of the House,” he said.

Ryan added, “My original decision was made in what I believed to be the best interest of this institution. To be clear, that decision was based on my duty to ensure that the House has the kind of pastoral services that it deserves.”

Ryan said he planned to sit down for Conroy early next week “so that we can move forward for the good of the whole House.”

Democrats had expressed outrage over Ryan’s decision to push Conroy out of the job.

Ryan has told fellow Republicans that he wanted to oust the House chaplain, a Roman Catholic priest from the Jesuit order, after complaints from members that he wasn't doing a very good job.

"He had a number of complaints that the chaplain was not meeting the pastoral needs of the members in general," said Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo.


But Democrats have come to Conroy’s defense.

“I have expressed my forceful disagreement with this decision to the speaker,” House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement on Friday. “It is truly sad that he made this decision, and it is especially bewildering that he did so only a matter of months before the end of his term.”

Conroy's firing would have been the first forced ouster in the history of the House.

Conroy has served as the chamber's chaplain since 2011.

Democrats -- and Conroy himself -- have cited a prayer he offered last fall that called for fairness as the House debated tax cuts as a reason for GOP discontent with his performance.

Last November, Conroy 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 him to "stay out of politics."

Democrats had sought to create a special committee to investigate "the motivations and actions" behind Ryan's decision to fire Conroy, but the move was killed by a party-line vote.

Conroy's resignation letter said he was offering to step down at Ryan's request, calling his seven years of House service "one of the great privileges of my life."

The chaplain is responsible for opening the House each day with a prayer and offering counseling to lawmakers and aides on the House side of the Capitol.

Fox News’ Alex Pappas, Jason Donner and The Associated Press contributed to this report.