After announcing his plans to leave office earlier this month, it could be assumed that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan would want to resign his post in a way that is devoid of conflicts or controversy, and allows for a smooth transition in his waning months in public office. Then again, Paul Ryan has never been one to shy away from the spotlight, and perhaps making such assumptions have been the reason why Ryan has been able to get away with so much during his tenure in office.
However, his most recent controversy has not only caused outrage from Congressional Democrats, but also may have put an otherwise ethical man out of a job. Reports began emerging on Wednesday regarding the resignation of House Chaplain Patrick Conroy, which, up until recently, had been believed to be a voluntary resignation initiated by Conroy himself and expressing his desire to step down from the post. Conroy had submitted his letter of resignation to Ryan’s office on April 15, which outlined a departure date of May 24 as being his final day.
However, as outlined in an article by the Chicago Tribune, suspicions of foul play are now clouding the chaplain’s resignation:
‘Ryan made no mention of the reasons behind Conroy’s ouster in an April 16 announcement, leaving the impression among most lawmakers that the priest was leaving voluntarily. The speaker called Conroy “a great source of strength and support to our community. He is deeply admired by members and staff.”
But the issue blew up in recent days as lawmakers began to speak to the chaplain, whose public role is to offer the opening prayer each day the House is in session – but whose private role, far more importantly, is to serve as a pastoral counsel to the entire community on the House side of the Capitol.’
You all said Paul Ryan would never take a stand. You said he would never show some backbone.
Well, I guess the Speaker showed you by [checks notes] removing the House chaplain after he prayed for a tax system benefitting everyone?https://t.co/ipTQh7Sqy2
— Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller) April 26, 2018
As House members and staff began to inquire into the reason why Chaplain had so suddenly decided to step down, it immediately became clear that he had been strong-armed by the Speaker, after Ryan’s chief of staff told Conroy that he faced the choice of either resigning, or being forcibly dismissed.
Wow. It appears that Paul Ryan forced the House Chaplain to resign for inviting a Muslim cleric to deliver a prayer. I'm daily horrified by the extent that elite media tolerate GOP Islamophobia. https://t.co/V1hudON39V
— we're going to pass AVR (@SeanMcElwee) April 26, 2018
House Democrats have become infuriated with these recent findings, especially House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who believes, along with other Democrats, that Ryan pushed out Conroy on false pretenses that the priest was more aligned with Democrats than Republicans.
According to speculations, many are claiming that Ryan had a problem with an opening prayer given by Conroy last November, in which Ryan believes the priest was being critical of the GOP tax bill. In his prayer, Conroy expressed to lawmakers that, at the same time that certain institutions and opportunities have allowed some to become successful, there are others that have been unable to attain this prosperity. Conroy ended the remarks by specifically mentioning the new tax bill, and his hopes that it would be balanced and fair for all Americans.
A conflict has now erupted between Ryan and Pelosi, as a spokeswoman for the Speaker stated that Pelosi had been told in advance of Ryan’s plans, and failed to express her objections of the ousting. On the other hand, Pelosi’s office is saying that she directly told Ryan that she disagreed with the decision.
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