WASHINGTON — It has been quite the week in Congress, with lawmakers battling over a forced impeachment resolution for President Donald Trump, partisan squabbling, and rampant infighting within the House Democratic Caucus.
Things have become so vexed in the Capitol that Rev. Patrick Conroy, the House of Representatives’ official chaplain and a Jesuit priest, prayed to “cast out all spirits of darkness” on the House floor Thursday morning during his opening prayer.
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“This has been a difficult and contentious week in which darker spirits seem to have been at play in the people’s House,” Conroy said. “In your most holy name, I now cast out all spirits of darkness from this chamber. Spirits not from You.”
“I cast out the spirit of discouragement, which deadens the hope of those who are of good will,” he added. “I cast out the spirit of petty divisiveness, which clouds the sense and the desire to be of fruitful productivity in addressing the issues more appropriately before this House. I cast out any sadness brought on by the frustration of dealing with matters detrimental to the honorable work each member has been called to engage in.”
Conroy then prayed to God to “anoint your servants here in the House with a healing balm to comfort and renew the souls of all in this assembly.”
“May your spirit of wisdom and patience descend upon all so that any spirit of darkness might have no place in our midst,” he added.
Conroy typically leads the opening prayer on the House floor, while leaders of other religious groups will often take his place to perform as guests.
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The last time Conroy made headlines was in the spring of 2018, when then-House Speaker Paul Ryan attempted to fire him as House chaplain. According to several lawmakers at the time, Ryan became frustrated with one of Conroy’s prayers in which he called for a fair tax code while Republicans were pushing through their landmark Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
Conroy ultimately rescinded the resignation that Ryan had requested after many members of Congress came to his defense. He then continued in his role as House chaplain, a position he has held since 2011.