House Chaplain Patrick Conroy’s sudden resignation has sparked a furor on Capitol Hill, with sources in both parties saying he was pushed out by Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan says it's 'really clear' Biden won election: 'It was not rigged. It was not stolen' Democrats fret over Trump-district retirements ahead of midterms To cut poverty and solve the labor shortage, enhance the Earned Income Tax Credit MORE (R-Wis.).
Conroy’s own resignation announcement stated that it was done at Ryan’s request.
“As you have requested, I hereby offer my resignation as the 60th Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives,” the April 15 letter to Ryan, obtained by The Hill, states.
Through his office, Conroy, who has served as chaplain since 2011, declined to comment on Thursday. His resignation is effective May 24.
Four different sources — two from each party — say Conroy was told that he must retire or that he would be dismissed.
The message from Ryan was delivered by his chief of staff, Jonathan Burks.
The issue has riled House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats hope Biden can flip Manchin and Sinema Overnight Hillicon Valley — Scrutiny over Instagram's impact on teens Democrats suffer blow on drug pricing as 3 moderates buck party MORE (D-Calif.), who broached the episode during the Democrats’ whip meeting in the Capitol Thursday morning.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers are planning to send a letter to Ryan requesting additional information regarding Conroy’s dismissal; the group is currently circulating the letter among colleagues to collect more signatures.
House chaplains, who offer an opening prayer each day the House is in session, are supposed to be nonpartisan.
It’s unclear exactly what if any political dispute, however, led to the chaplain’s dismissal.
A Democratic lawmaker said that the Speaker took issue with a prayer on the House floor that could have been perceived as being critical of the GOP tax-cut bill.
On Nov. 6 — the first day of the markup on the GOP's tax bill — Conroy in a prayer urged lawmakers to ensure the legislation did not exacerbate the nation's gaping class disparities.
AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Ryan, said it was Ryan’s decision, but declined to offer a reason for the move. She added that Pelosi and her office “were fully read in and did not object.”
"The speaker told Leader Pelosi that he would not move forward with the decision if she objected and she chose not to," Strong said.
In a separate statement to media outlets late Thursday, Strong said, "The speaker consulted with the minority leader, but the decision was his. He remains grateful for Father Conroy’s service."
Pelosi’s office disputed that the Democrat did not object.
“Leader Pelosi was given advance notice by Speaker Ryan," said a Pelosi spokesman, but she “also made it clear to Speaker Ryan that she disagreed with this decision.”
A second Democratic aide said Conroy’s ouster was “largely driven by a speech on the tax bill that the Speaker didn't like.” But the source also offered a second reason.
“Some of the more conservative evangelical Republicans didn't like that the Father had invited a Muslim person to give the opening prayer,” the source said.
When Pelosi, who is Catholic, informed members of her whip team on Thursday morning that Conroy was pushed out against his will, it “shocked” the members, according to one lawmaker.
Catholic members on both sides of the aisle were furious to learn that Conroy’s retirement was not voluntary, according to multiple sources, including one Republican lawmaker and one Democratic member.
Ryan, who is also Catholic, has appointed Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsLoeffler meets with McConnell amid speculation of another Senate run Georgia agriculture commissioner launches Senate campaign against Warnock Poll shows tight GOP primary for Georgia governor MORE (R-Ga.), an Air Force Reserve chaplain, as well as Reps. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerJudge temporarily blocks Florida anti-riot law The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden to reboot COVID-19 plan NC Republican primary key test of Trump's sway MORE (R-N.C.) and Tim WalbergTimothy (Tim) Lee WalbergEquilibrium/ Sustainability — Presented by NextEra Energy — West Coast wildfires drive East Coast air quality alerts House passes bill requiring EPA to regulate 'forever chemicals' in drinking water GOP divided on anti-Biden midterm message MORE (R-Mich.), both former pastors, to lead the search effort to find a replacement.
Conroy’s arrival on Capitol Hill was also marked with some controversy. The Jesuit priest was nominated by former Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerLobbying world A new kind of hero? Last week's emotional TV may be a sign GOP up in arms over Cheney, Kinzinger MORE (R-Ohio) in May 2011, but Pelosi urged additional vetting of the pick after learning that Conroy was then working for a Catholic religious order — the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus — that had agreed just months earlier to pay $166 million to victims of sexual abuse going back decades.
There was no evidence that Conroy was involved in the scandal, nor did Pelosi suggest that was the case. After further questioning, she endorsed his nomination.
– Juliegrace Brufke and Scott Wong contributed to this report, which was updated at 8:23 p.m.