The revelation last Thursday that House Speaker Paul Ryan had dismissed the Rev. Patrick Conroy, the Jesuit priest who had been serving as House chaplain, stirred an instant controversy on Capitol Hill.
But a more revealing guide to the future of Catholic politics in the President Donald Trump era may have come a day earlier, when the US Conference of Catholic Bishops fired off a toughly worded letter urging Congress to restore legal protections for young immigrants who had been brought to the country illegally by their parents. The timing of the two events was coincidental: Conroy, in fact, had been fired by Ryan two weeks earlier but did not reveal the dismissal until an interview with The New York Times last Thursday. But the juxtaposition was nonetheless revealing. The convergence illuminated a key question: As Trump’s hard-edged agenda, particularly on immigration, draws more overt opposition from the leadership of the US Catholic Church, can the GOP maintain the dominant support among white Catholics it has usually enjoyed since the 1980s?
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