Many may not know this (most people don’t), but Patrick Conroy, the Chaplain of the House recently forced out by Representative and Ayn Rand devotee Paul Ryan for being insufficiently grateful for the Republican tax cuts, was a Catholic, and as such, unmarried and without children.
Some of the conservatives who now steer the Republican Party’s policies are going to make damned sure that never happens again:
Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), one of the leaders of the committee searching for a replacement for the ousted House chaplain, said the next spiritual leader of the House should be someone with a family who can better relate to and counsel lawmakers with spouses and children.
Walker is Chairman of something called the “Republican Study Committee” and co-chair of something called the “Prayer Caucus” in the Republican-dominated House of Representatives.
Of course Walker’s “criteria” would automatically rule out unmarried and childless Catholic priests, all men, straight or gay, without kids, and all childless women, unless you expect a Republican-controlled House Committee to select a lesbian with kids as their spiritual advisor, which seems unlikely (and no one’s even talking about a Rabbi, trust me). In fact, Walker and his ilk are particularly adamant that someone be appointed who can keep “the wife” in line, presumably to placate wayward Congressmen eager to emulate their spiritual Leader, Donald Trump’s rampant sexual escapades:
“I’m looking for somebody who has a little age, that has adult children, that kind of can connect with the bulk of the body here, Republicans and Democrats who are going through, back home the wife, the family … that has some counseling experience …
Ahhh someone to counsel that “wife” “back home” in the hinterland, pining away while Hubby enjoys a life of luxury and partakes in who-knows what in the sordid world of Washington D.C. penthouses.
Here’s Walker again, waxing eloquent about his ideal religious overseer, and trying to explain that he really doesn’t hate the idea of a Catholic chaplain:
“I don’t think just because you are of that particular strain of faith, that prevents you from doing it. That doesn’t mean [a Catholic] can’t minister people,” Walker continued. “But when you walk the journey of having a kid back home that’s struggling or made some bad decisions, or when you have a separation situation or your wife’s not understanding the [congressional] schedule, having somebody who’s walked in those shoes allows you to immediately relate a little bit more than others.”
Yeah, back to that “wife” problem and that pesky “Congressional schedule.”
Walker’s statement of his “preferences” has fanned the fires of an all-out war in the House over who should be the next Chaplain. The fight seems to be transcending political lines, as conservative Catholics from both Parties expressed outrage over Walker’s remarks. Representative Emanuel Cleaver, a United Methodist minister and the only Democrat on the “Chaplain Search Committee” noted that the process of selecting a new chaplain has become a farce:
“All I would like is to prevent us from looking like the House of Clowns,” [said]] Cleaver, a United Methodist pastor…
It’s probably too late for that.
Only one thing seems certain to result from this brouhaha — no matter who is chosen as the “House chaplain,” it’s a fair bet that no one in Congress will pay attention to a single thing he says.