Did Paul Ryan think the House chaplain was a meddlesome priest? Father Pat Conroy says that two weeks ago, the House speaker asked for his resignation but did not provide a reason, Politico reports. Democrats believe the priest, who was nominated by John Boehner in 2011, was forced out over a November prayer in which he mentioned the GOP tax bill and said the efforts of lawmakers should result in "benefits balanced and shared by all Americans" instead of "winners and losers." House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley says Ryan's move was "reprehensible." That Conroy "be the first chaplain of the House of Representatives to be fired in the history of the United States is just outrageous," he says.
Conroy is the 60th House chaplain in US history, but only the second Catholic. The priest, whose last day will be May 24, tells the New York Times that "Catholic members on both sides are furious." The Jesuit declined to comment on whether politics was a factor in the actions of Ryan, a conservative Catholic, though he says the House is inherently political. "I don't know if there is a religious divide; there certainly is a political one." A bipartisan group of lawmakers is demanding more information on the firing. Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly blames "anti-Catholic sentiment" for the ouster, though Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong says the speaker is a proud Catholic and the charge is "false and outrageous."