Catholic

3 Ways In Which the House Chaplain Controversy May Continue
Lawmakers still want answers about the speaker’s decision to fire Rev. Patrick J. Conroy

House Chaplain Patrick J. Conroy is staying is position but lawmakers are still questioning why he was asked to leave in the first place. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Chaplain Patrick J. Conroy is getting to stay in his position, but that doesn’t mean the controversy surrounding Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s initial decision to fire him is going away. 

Several lawmakers are still questioning what influenced the Wisconsin Republican to make his call and how to prevent future speakers from unilaterally seeking to remove the House chaplain. 

Lawmakers Worried About Religious Freedom After Chaplain Ouster
Democrats raise questions about anti-Catholic sentiments from Republicans

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., said there’s only division coming out of Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s decision to fire House Chaplain Patrick J. Conroy. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Update 8:45 a.m. | A spokesman for Rep. Mark Walkertold USA Today that the congressman was stepping down from the group searching for a new House chaplain.

Emotions are running high in the House as members grapple with Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s decision to fire House Chaplain Patrick J. Conroy. And religious tensions started to spill into public view last week before lawmakers departed Washington for a one-week recess.

A Post-Boehner Era Ash Wednesday

Boehner spoke about Ash Wednesday in his first speech after taking the speaker's gavel in 2011. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In former Speaker John A. Boehner’s first speech after taking the gavel in January 2011, he referred to Ash Wednesday in an attempt to humble Congress.  

“In the Catholic faith, we enter into a season of service by having ashes marked on our foreheads,” the Ohio Republican said. “The ashes remind us that life in all its forms is fragile — our time on this Earth, fleeting. As the ashes are delivered, we hear those humbling words: ‘Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.’” He continued: “The American people have humbled us.  They have refreshed our memories as to just how temporary the privilege to serve is.”