U.S. House Chaplain Pat Conroy. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- I often run into people who don’t like the current power structure in Washington and say they feel powerless to change it. I tell them they’re only powerless if they think they are, and I’m pretty sure they don’t listen to me.
Maybe it’s time to start.
Consider the case study of Speaker Paul Ryan, ostensibly one of the most powerful people in Congess, and his attempt to fire the House Chaplain, a Jesuit priest named Pat Conroy.
That effort has now been reversed thanks to a backlash that illustrates my point.
When word came down that Conroy had offered his resignation under pressure from the Speaker, there was a bipartisan backlash, especially among Catholic members. They didn’t appreciate the fact that, by all plausible accounts, Conroy was being pushed out because he had given a prayer on the floor during last November’s tax-cut-bill debate pleading for fairness, specifically asking lawmakers to make sure the cut’s benefits were “balanced and shared by all Americans.”
Some of the House’s hard-right conservatives don’t like being called out on the fact that the bill favored corporations and the rich; some didn’t approve of Conroy inviting a Muslim cleric to give a prayer; while others simply don’t like Catholics, with an aide to Ryan reportedly telling Father Conroy “it’s time we had a Chaplain that wasn’t a Catholic.”
Of course, Ryan and his aide deny all of this, and claim the whole thing was just a big misunderstanding.
Sure it was.
But the story shows that abusive power can be overcome by pushback and asserting moral decency.
How very frightening that must be to some of Washington’s worst creatures.
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