House chaplain prays to 'cast out all spirits of darkness from this chamber'

The Rev. Patrick Conroy, the chaplain for the House of Representatives, offered a prayer Thursday to cast out “spirits of darkness” after the chamber was engulfed in controversy with the White House.

Conroy, a Jesuit priest who has been the House chaplain since 2011, preached that it has been a “difficult and contentious week in which darker spirits seem to have been at play in the people's House."

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“In your most holy name, I now cast out all spirits of darkness from this chamber, spirits not from you,” he prayed. “Anoint your servants here in the House with a healing balm with a comfort and renew the souls of all in this assembly. May your spirit of wisdom and patience descend upon all so that any spirit of darkness might have no place in our midst.” 

Conroy told CNN in an interview that the idea for the prayer came in response to Tuesday’s vote to formally condemn as racist President TrumpDonald John TrumpJustice says it will recommend Trump veto FISA bill Fauci: Nominating conventions may be able to go on as planned Poll: Biden leads Trump by 11 points nationally MORE’s remarks that four congresswomen of color should go back to the “crime infested places from which they came.” Three of the four congresswomen were born in the U.S. and all four are citizens. 

"I was on the House floor on Tuesday," Conroy told CNN, "and to me, it felt different than other days. It felt like there was something going on beyond just political disagreement. The energy of the House was very off. No one was relishing what was happening." 

Conroy said his prayer was intentionally nonpartisan, saying “I wasn’t picking sides.” 

“That's ultimately the goal every day. I want every member of the House to be able to say 'amen.' I'm praying for our better angels,” he told CNN.

The House has waged a rhetorical war over Trump’s remarks in recent days, as Democrats panned his comments as racist while many Republicans pointed to past controversial statements by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezThe Hill's Campaign Report: GOP beset by convention drama Ocasio-Cortez challenger drops out of GOP primary Ocasio-Cortez posts experience getting antibody tested for COVID-19 MORE (D-N.Y.), Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarOmar condemns use of rubber bullets, tear gas on crowds at George Floyd protest Four Minneapolis officers involved in death of unarmed black man fired Overnight Defense: Pentagon memo warns pandemic could go until summer 2021 | Watchdog finds Taliban violence is high despite US deal | Progressive Dems demand defense cuts MORE (D-Minn.), Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyOvernight Defense: Pentagon memo warns pandemic could go until summer 2021 | Watchdog finds Taliban violence is high despite US deal | Progressive Dems demand defense cuts Progressives demand defense budget cuts amid coronavirus pandemic The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The American Investment Council - Trump takes his 'ready to reopen' mantra on the road MORE (D-Mass.) and Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibOvernight Defense: Pentagon memo warns pandemic could go until summer 2021 | Watchdog finds Taliban violence is high despite US deal | Progressive Dems demand defense cuts Progressives demand defense budget cuts amid coronavirus pandemic Overnight Energy: 600K clean energy jobs lost during pandemic, report finds | Democrats target diseases spread by wildlife | Energy Dept. to buy 1M barrels of oil MORE (D-Mich.), the four congresswomen the president targeted.