Just ahead of the 1/6 anniversary, The Washington Post has published part of an interview with the former chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives, Jesuit Rev. Pat Conroy. He had just left his post when the insurrection happened, and in the interview he had a lot to say about that and a few other things:
Conroy spoke in late December to Lew Nescott Jr., an independent interviewer who produces videos on religion and politics in America. Conroy added a few details this week to The Post. Lightly edited excerpts are below:
Q: You weren’t at the House on Jan. 6, you were quarantining. If you had been in the House on Jan. 7, what would you have prayed?
A: “Lord we’ve had a terrible spirit in this building, send your spirit of peace and of healing and of reconciliation in a place badly in need of it.”
Q: Some think there’s an apocalyptic, end-of-days-type feel to this era. Do you agree?
A: I’m not an apocalyptic person. … Apocalyptic thought, those notions, pouring that out into the public discourse drums up fear. There are a lot of people banking on Americans continuing to be filled with fear. Politically they’re banking on it, economically they’re banking on it, it sells newspapers, it gets viewers, they’re all negative energies, they don’t build toward a positive future.
It’s like, in that sense, if you want to talk about spirit — this dark spirit would have us live in fear. In Jesus talk, when he first appears after the resurrection: “Do not fear” — it’s the first thing he says, like five times. “Do not fear.”
If you’re afraid of the apocalypse, amend your life! … If you’re afraid of the end: Repent! Prepare the way of the Lord, so when the Lord comes, he’ll recognize the place! He’ll be like: “Good work! You prepared the way for me! By healing people, helping people, forgiving people, lifting people up!” Stop the judgment, stop the anger, stop the blame.
Q: Where were you on Jan. 6, 2021? Did any members of Congress reach out?
A: On Jan. 6 I was in quarantine, as a member of our Jesuit community had tested positive, and sitting in my room at Gonzaga high school on North Capitol. I was waiting as well for my second Pfizer shot on Jan. 11.
Nobody thought of the no-longer-chaplain during those hectic days, nor since…
Q: From your point of view as a chaplain and a lawyer, do you see work of lawmakers as moral, religious or secular?
A: The purpose of politics is providing for the common good. Pope Francis said that to Congress: Your work is holy work if it’s for the common good.
Q: Doesn’t that sound like a religious imperative?
A: It’s a moral imperative. Whether or not we’re religious. Our work, all of our work should be for the common good.
There’s more, including his thoughts on freedom of choice and abortion.
America magazine did an interview with him a few years ago, below.