|Oregon Jesuit Priest Patrick Conroy Gets Support of Both Pelosi and Boehner to Become House Chaplain
By Nancy Haught
May 11, 2011
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's on-again, off-again support for the nomination of the Rev. Patrick Conroy to become the chaplain of the House of Representatives is back on.
Pelosi initially supported the Jesuit priest from Oregon, who was selected by Speaker John Boehner, but her office then said it had to review "additional information" that it did not have before.
The information came after Roll Call reported Wednesday that Pelosi did not know about the March settlement by the Oregon Province of a $166.1 million bankruptcy case that involved more than 500 active claims of sexual or physical abuse.
Conroy told The Oregonian on Wednesday that he had told both Pelosi and Boehner about the bankruptcy settlement and also that he had once written to the archbishop of Seattle about an incident reported to him by a 20-year-old man.
A spokesman for Boehner said the "settlement was public knowledge" and had "nothing to do with Father Conroy."
And by late Wednesday afternoon, Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said "Father Conroy has responded to additional questions" and "the leader sees no obstacle to him being named chaplain."
The letter in question, written in 1986, came while Conroy was working on the Colville Indian Reservation, and had traveled to Snohomish to perform a wedding. A friend asked him to speak to a young man, who said a diocesan priest had "propositioned him."
"I asked him whether anything had happened, and he said, 'No.' That turned out to be a lie," Conroy said.
At the time, Conroy wrote to then-Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen. Conroy said he didn't hear back from the archbishop and because "no crime was committed," the priest didn't follow up.
The Seattle Times quoted from the letter in 2002: "It came to pass on one such occasion that Fr. (Dennis V.) Champagne made a homosexual pass at the young boy in question, momentarily molesting him. The youth fled immediately. Fr. Champagne never again made such a pass, and the young man never told anyone, with the exception of a friend, who asked me to talk to the victim about this incident."
The Times reported that Father Champagne received "psychiatric counseling after being accused of fondling a boy in 1979," and resigned in 2002 when the same accusation was made again.
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.