Republican Representative Mark Walker, who is one of the leaders of the committee that is searching for a replacement for the ousted House chaplain, said that the next spiritual leader of the House needs to be someone with a family who can better relate and counsel lawmakers with spouses and children.
Father Patrick Conroy, whom Speaker Paul Ryan asked to resign, is celibate as part of his Catholic faith.
“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 … because what’s needed in the body here is people who can sit down with different members, male, female, Democrat, Republican, and just talk about what it is kind of to be up here,” Walker, a Southern Baptist minister and chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, said to the reporters Thursday.
The Hill reported that Walker is also co-chair of the Prayer Caucus. Although he did not say that Catholic could not serve as House chaplain, he showed that he prefers a non-denominational religious leader who has experience with family life.
“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 are 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.”
“I’m probably looking for somebody more of a non-denominational background, that has a multicultural congregation,” Walker stated.
Meanwhile, several Catholic Democrats condemned Walker’s comments. Democratic Representative Gerry Connolly stated that some lawmakers believe that Ryan’s move was designed to appease anti-Catholic sentiments in the GOP conference.
Connolly also added that the ouster is now confirming their fears.