“A Catholic Speaker of the House fires a Catholic chaplain for praying for the poor.”

As we talk quite a bit here about the hypocrisy of the so-called “Christian” right, I wanted to be sure to at least note the fact that, a little over a week ago now, when Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan announced that U.S. House of Representatives chaplain Patrick Conroy would be stepping down, he wasn’t exactly telling the whole truth. No, Ryan, we now know, had fired the Catholic priest. And, what’s worse, according to several Washington insiders, it was political — payback for Father Conroy having the audacity, as the Republicans were passing tax cuts for the rich last November, to delivered a prayer urging lawmakers to remember the poor.

Ryan, hoping to quash the story, was scrambling yesterday to suggest that Conroy had failed to meet the “pastoral needs” of House members, but that excuse, according to many, including members of the Speaker’s own party, seems suspect. Republican Congressman Peter King, for instance, told reporters yesterday, after meeting with Ryan, that he had “never heard any of these complaints before” about Conroy, who, he went on to say, could always be seen sitting down and talking with members of Congress. [Ryan has since come out and said that it was just “time for a change.”]

As for what it was that Conroy said on November 6 of last year that might have gotten him fired, here it is. “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,” said Father Conroy. “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.”

It was shortly after that, according to Conroy, that Ryan told him, “Padre, you just got to stay out of politics.” And now he’s been fired.

The following excerpt comes by way of the New York Times.

So let this be a lesson to the next person to serve as U.S. House of Representatives chaplain (who you can be damn sure won’t be Muslim)… You can talk about Ayn Rand as much as you want, but don’t talk about Jesus, at least not as we know him through the New Testament. Don’t mention the plight of the poor. And, whatever you do, don’t make those conservative members of the House, who like to think of themselves as “good Christians,” feel the least bit guilty about supporting legislation in-line with the corporatist agenda of their largest donors.

Oh, and here’s my favorite quote about all of this. It comes from Father James Martin, a Jesuit writer and editor. If this is, in fact what happened, he said, “then a Catholic Speaker of the House fired a Catholic chaplain for praying for the poor.”

But, really, what can we expect when we live in a country where a large number of people see Donald Tump as a noble, courageous Christian warrior, in spite of the draft dodging, the porn actresses, the mocking of the disabled, and everything else?

As terrible as it is, this world we now inhabit is also kind of wonderful. All of the lies we’ve lived with for years are being stripped away. The “family values” charade is over. These people on the far right, who, for decades, have told us of their moral superiority, have, by supporting Trump, let the truth be known. Their movement, from the start, was a movement of charlatans and con men, supported by weak-minded fools who, more than anything else, wanted to feel some sense of superiority. But Trump brought it all to an end, just like he’s destroyed everything else that he’s come in contact with. By publicly supporting a self-described “pussy grabber” who urged the people of Alabama to vote for a pedophile and talked of there being “fine people” among the white supremacists of Charlottesville, America’s evangelicals have essentially been forced to admit that their movement was never about anything more than tribal warfare and power. They never wanted leaders who emulated Christ. They wanted leaders who told them that they were better than everyone else for identifying as Christian conservatives. They wanted to own the moral high ground without actually having to do the difficult work of following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. They just wanted to win. And, now, it’s all over. Their moral high ground, for all that they talked about it, never really existed, and we all know it.

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24 Comments

  1. Jean Henry
    Posted April 28, 2018 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    The Chaplain was a Jesuit Catholic and Ryan is a conservative Catholic. They are very different. They tolerate one another but don’t agree on much. Jesuit’s have always been very concerned with the fate of the poor and have a tradition of service to them. The Conservative Catholics have not.

    I was concerned that Ryan’s true Randian asshole nature was being forgotten As he benefitted by comparison to Trump. I’m glad he took the tome to remind us with another asshole move before leaving office.

    Please note also that his compadres now are turning back into deficit hawks again just in time to cut social services and call the actions unavoidable.

  2. Posted April 28, 2018 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    Indeed. This is a timely conversation to be having right now, as the Republicans consider drastic cuts to the social safety net. They told us that such cuts wouldn’t have to be made, as their irresponsible give-aways to the rich would “pay for themselves.” They knew they wouldn’t, though. It was all part of the plan… Step one, cut taxes on the rich. Step two, fuck the non-wealthy… No one matters to Paul Ryan but the rich people who placed him in power. No one.

  3. Demetrius
    Posted April 28, 2018 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    Just additional confirmation that Ryan is a selfish, petty asshole … but this controversy exposes another, more important issue: How/why is it acceptable to have a “chaplain” (of any faith) serving in an official government, taxpayer-funded position in the first place?

    Just don’t replace him. Problem solved.

  4. Jean Henry
    Posted April 28, 2018 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    Chaplains of any faith are paid for my the government and military in many capacities, just like social workers. Freud has just about as much legitimacy as religion in terms of scientific validation. Religion is just another human construct that has effectively offered comfort to billions of humans for millennia. No reason not to offer people in public service the support systems they prefer.
    I would love to see a Muslim chaplain in Congress. There is one serving our troops now. I heard an interview.

  5. Iron lung
    Posted April 28, 2018 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    Christianity == morally bankrupt bullshit

  6. EOS
    Posted April 29, 2018 at 5:13 am | Permalink

    This blog knows no bounds. I doubt there is a single person who sees Trump as a noble, courageous, Christian warrior. Let me clue you in Mark – every single politician supported by the Christian Right is a flawed individual. Far from being over, the Conservative Right grows stronger each year.

    Catholics don’t care about the poor??? Really. Take a look around and see that a significant number of hospitals in the U.S. Are funded by Catholics. Also social services, adoption agencies, food banks, pregnancy help centers, job training programs… Mark doesn’t have the slightest idea why the chaplain has been let go, be he is glomming on to a quote of a Jesuit in order to distort this issue for his own political purpose.

    The Catholic Church is extremely wealthy and a very political organization. The minority, the Jesuits, have put their man in as Pope. The Jesuits are communist/socialist. Their pope comes out several times a year and announces some doctrine that is decidedly different that what has been understood for millennia. Then the Vatican PR officials have to do double time explaining that he didn’t mean what he said. Now the Pope has his own movie. To what end?

    The pope doesn’t speak for the majority of Christians, nor even a majority of Catholics today. Be wary. There will surely be more trouble to come. And if I were you Mark, I wouldn’t piss off the Catholics. They might seem conservative in your eyes, but most vote Democratic.

  7. Jean Henry
    Posted April 29, 2018 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    ‘Pregnancy help centers’ —ha! They’ll help you stay pregnant, but most offer little beyond that.
    Catholic Social Services is and always has been solid.
    There is more complexity than Mark allows in organized religion, True.
    But there is more complexity than you allow, EOS, in EVERYTHING else.

    Ps if the Pope doesn’t speak for most Catholics, that makes them heretics, no?

  8. EOS
    Posted April 29, 2018 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    Heretics? Only in the eyes of the Catholic hierarchy. Many perceive them as true believers, led by the Holy Spirit to the truth. Many are saved out of the Catholic Church.

  9. EOS
    Posted April 29, 2018 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    Pregnancy help centers will see that their clients obtain food, housing, prenatal health care and counseling. And they will find a good adoptive home if the woman chooses. They give the woman lots of choices other than abortion.

  10. Kit
    Posted April 29, 2018 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    EOS, season two of the Handmaid’s Tale is now streaming. I think you might enjoy it.

  11. Posted April 29, 2018 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    For what it’s worth, I was talking with a friend last night who told me that many Catholics in her social circles see this an anti-Catholic move on the part of the increasingly powerful evangelical Christians in DC who form Trump’s base.

  12. wobblie
    Posted April 29, 2018 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    I love it when people talk about things they know nothing or little about. EOS please tell me more about the Catholic Church, please tell me more about the Pope ” announces some doctrine that is decidedly different that what has been understood for millennia.”

    Just for your info, Francis is not a Jesuit. He is a Franciscan. You should check out the teachings of the founder of his order, Francis of Assisi, and then tell me that this Pope is overturning doctrine that “has been understood for millennnia”.

    By the way EOS there is nothing unique about the Jesuits being “communist/socialist.” within the Catholic Church. All of the mainline religious orders-Fransicans, Dominicans, Maryknowls, as well as the Jesuits hold their property in common and require service from their members on the basis of “from each according to their abilities to each according to their need”. You know it all part of that vow of poverty thing they do.

  13. Jean Henry
    Posted April 29, 2018 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    https://www.prochoiceamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/6.-The-Truth-About-Crisis-Pregnancy-Centers.pdf

  14. Jean Henry
    Posted April 29, 2018 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    http://www.jstor.org/stable/42004128

  15. Jean Henry
    Posted April 29, 2018 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    My 12 year old son pointed me to this. Awesome.
    https://youtu.be/4NNpkv3Us1I

  16. Posted April 29, 2018 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    I’m watching now, Jean. Thanks for the link. I just got to the point where J.O. points out that Mississippi has 1 real abortion clinic and 38 fake ones ( “crisis pregnancy centers”). What the fuck?

  17. Jean Henry
    Posted April 29, 2018 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    Suggested: https://wrrap.org/

    When I was flush, I offered to donate whenever EOS went off on her anti=abortion rants. Unfortunately, that’s not possible right now, but I highly encourage others to step up to the plate.

  18. Posted April 29, 2018 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps a new campaign is in order.

  19. Brian B.
    Posted April 30, 2018 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    If you’re trying to maintain a biblical perspective on current events, consider for a moment that Republicans today aren’t so much old testament Jews in exile, but new testament Pharasees in charge.

  20. Josh Chamberlain
    Posted April 30, 2018 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Feeding the poor is “too political” for politicians. He should just do his job—playing football, I mean preaching.

  21. charlieRomeo
    Posted April 30, 2018 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    Typical bullshit, good cop-bad cop false distinction that really is just a mask for the underlying class warfare reality. Either one of these fervent religious believers could be on either side of the moral divide of good and evil depending on the situation. Shamful and shameful hypocrisy.

  22. M.S. Bellows, Jr. by proxy
    Posted May 2, 2018 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    OUTSTANDING essay by @megogieblyn on why fundamentalists embrace Trump: not because he’s a good Christian, but because he’s a powerful “pagan leader” being used by God, like Cyrus + Nebuchadnezzar, to restore true believers to their theocracy. And Pence is the Prophet Daniel.

    https://twitter.com/msbellows/status/991811844133142528

  23. BrianB
    Posted May 3, 2018 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Conroy has rescinded his resignation! Your move, Mr. Ryan: https://twitter.com/FoxReports/status/992137696117182470?s=20

  24. BrianB
    Posted May 3, 2018 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    And, another article about why Trump’s evangelical supporters won’t abandon him, even when he is eventually exposed for paying off his mistrisseses’ abortions. The patirarchy is more important than adultry and abortion to them: http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2018/04/president_trumps_stormy_daniel.html#incart_river_index

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