Speaker Ryan forces out the House chaplain

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan has ousted the chaplain of the House of Representatives, according to his resignation letter — a move that's angered Democrats and defenders of the Jesuit priest.

The Rev. Patrick Conroy wrote in an April 15 letter to Ryan that was obtained by NBC News, "As you have requested, I hereby offer my resignation as the 60th Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives."

"The position is one which I did not seek nor strive to assume, but I have seen it as a blessing and I have considered it one of the great privileges of my life," said Conroy.

Ryan announced his decision to not seek re-election and retire from Congress on April 11, which came a few days before Conroy's resignation letter.

Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said Conroy made the decision to resign. "The speaker consulted with the minority leader, but the decision was his. He remains grateful for Father Conroy's service," Strong said.

There have been concerns about the pastor being too partisan.

Conroy has been blunt in some of his remarks, including in a prayer about the GOP tax bill on the House floor on Nov. 6, 2017, before the legislation was passed and signed into law by President Donald Trump.

"As legislation on taxes continues to be debated this week and next, may all Members be mindful that the institutions and structures of our great Nation guarantee the opportunities that have allowed some to achieve great success, while others continue to struggle," Conroy said.

"May their efforts these days guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans," he added.

When Ryan gave Pelosi advance notice about Conroy's departure, she made it clear that she disagreed with the speaker and that she had had only received positive feedback about Conroy's service, a Pelosi aide said.

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., expressed outrage in a tweet on Thursday afternoon: "Speaker Ryan fires House Chaplain? Is nothing sacred?"

Former Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, nominated Conroy as the chaplain in May 2011, in consultation with Pelosi, and he was sworn in that month.