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Chaplain Won’t Use Jesus’ Name in House Prayers

By Jerry A. Kane

The Reverend Patrick J. Conroy, 60th Chaplain of the House of Representatives, is the second Catholic priest and the first Jesuit priest to hold that position.

So far this session, Conroy has given 44 prayers in the House, and has not mentioned the name of Jesus in those prayers, and what’s more, he says he won’t mention the name.

“I understand my responsibility is to offer prayers that all the members of the House can say ‘Amen’ to, which is the difference in my mind between a chaplain and a pastor. A pastor is responsible for his or her denomination and nurturing their shared faith. So if that’s Christian, you do pray in the name of Jesus. But if your congregation, so to speak, is inter-religious, I try to word it in such a way that everybody present can say, ‘Amen,’” Conroy said.

Conroy, who’s been serving as House chaplain since 2011, begins his prayers with either “eternal God” or “gracious God” and usually ends them with, “May all that is done this day be for your greater honor and glory.”

No surprises here. After all, the Catholic priest hails from the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus, an order which paid out the largest sex-abuse settlement of any order in the Roman State-Church, $166 million settlement to more than 400 claims of child sex abuse.

In 1986 before the molestation allegations became public, Conroy penned a letter to then-Seattle Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen stating a boy told him that he had been abused by a priest when he was 12 or 13 at a parish in Snohomish, Washington. When Hunthausen didn’t reply to his letter, Conroy sat on his hands and didn’t follow up on the abuse accusation.

The “Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests” (SNAP) opposed John Boehner’s nomination of Conroy as chaplain in 2011. SNAP said that Conroy knew of the abuse and failed to follow up on it.

Now that I think about it, a Jesuit prayer addressed to a generic god is actually more appropriate than one addressed to the God of the Bible and has a better chance in hell of being answered.

For more on this story, see Praying to Jesus on the House Floor.


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