Jesuit priest becomes chaplain of the House

May 26, 2011

Jesuit Patrick Conroy was sworn in May 25 as House chaplain, making
him the first Society of Jesus priest to hold the position—and the first
chaplain forced to navigate around the Catholic Church's sexual abuse
scandals.

"It's clear this loyal servant of the faithful is
uniquely suited to serve as chaplain of the people's House," Speaker
John Boehner said, noting that the chaplain "is the anchor of the House.

"[Minority]
leader Pelosi and I have gotten a chance to know Father Pat, and we're
honored that he has accepted our invitation to serve as chaplain," said
Boehner. "We are blessed to have his guidance and his wisdom as we
discharge our duties and fulfill our obligations to current and future
generations of Americans."

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had
raised questions about Conroy, 60, after learning that the Jesuits'
Oregon Province agreed to a $166.1 million bankruptcy settlement
involving more than 500 active claims of sexual or physical abuse.

After
requesting and receiving additional information, Pelosi later gave
Conroy her full support. Though the dustup was brief, Conroy referred to
it as a "firestorm" that exposed the extent to which the abuse cases
remain connected to the modern church.

Conroy becomes the 60th
House chaplain and succeeds Catholic priest Daniel Coughlin, who retired
last month after 11 years in the position. Until his appointment,
Conroy taught at Jesuit High School in Beaverton, Oregon.  —RNS