By Mike Lillis - 05/11/11 11:37 PM EDT
After further questioning, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) "sees no obstacle" preventing the nominee for House chaplain from filling that post, her office said Wednesday.
Pelosi had sought to reevaluate Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) choice, the Rev. Patrick J. Conroy, after learning the Jesuit priest works for a Roman Catholic religious order that recently agreed to pay $166 million to hundreds of victims of sexual abuse.
"Father Conroy has responded to additional questions posed to him," Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said Wednesday in an email. "Based on his answers, the Leader sees no obstacle to him being named Chaplain."
Boehner's decision to tap Conroy for the chaplain spot was made "in consultation with" Pelosi, the speaker said last week when he announced his pick. The position opened up last month when Fr. Daniel P. Coughlin, the first Catholic priest to hold the chaplain post, retired after more than 11 years of service.
The House is expected to vote on the Conroy nomination later this month.
That vote took a controversial turn, however, when Pelosi learned Conroy works for the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus – known more commonly as the Northwest Jesuits – which agreed in March to pay $166 million to victims of sexual abuse going back decades. Boehner's office did not mention that settlement during the vetting process, Pelosi's office said.
Roll Call first reported that story late Tuesday.
Both Boehner and Pelosi are Catholic.
It's not the first time House leaders have tussled over the nomination of a chaplain. In 1999 and 2000, the relationship between Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) frayed dramatically when Hastert's nomination of a Presbyterian minister, Charles Wright, over several Catholic priests prompted Democratic howls that GOP leaders harbored an anti-Catholic bias.
Wright would eventually withdraw his nomination – leading Hastert to nominate Coughlin – but the relationship between the speaker and Gephardt was by then so fractured that the two men didn't speak for months, according to reports at the time.