Skip to comments.The Audacity of Poping
Posted on 03/30/2009 11:00:48 AM PDT by Alex Murphy
Brace yourselves for a tsunami of punditry this weekend, when the much-married Newt Gingrich is received into the Catholic Church.
This would ordinarily be a private occasion, but Newt Gingrich is not ordinary. He is (I hedge) probably the most interesting putative candidate on the right at this point. Google Gingrich and 2012 and your hard drive will melt under a trillion hits. So attention to this event must and will be paid.
BTW: Poping in the headline above, whichsorryI couldnt resist, is the traditional, British pejorative for becoming a Catholic. Did you hear the news? Bertie just Poped! There will be an undercurrent of anti-Catholic bias in the commentary about Mr. Gingrichs embrace of Rome. As the saying goes, anti-Catholicism is the anti-Semitism of the intellectual class.
He and Mother Churchfrom whose tender embrace I myself have regrettably lapsedwill both be made out to be appalling hypocrites. Who among us should throw stones? But Mr. Gingrichs marital history is a matter of public record, and it is not tidy. He first married at age 19, to his 26-year-old former high-school geometry teacher and then, so the story goes, presented her with divorce terms after she was wheeled out of cancer surgery.
Mrs. Gingrich #2 was dumped after her husband had carried on an extramarital affair with a fetching, blond congressional staffer named Callista Bisek, who went on to become the present Mrs. Gingrich #3. This Family Values paradigm was complicated by the fact that whilst Mr. Gingrich was filibustering Ms. Bisek over the Speakers desk, he was simultaneously leading the impeachment charge against a naughty president of the United States.
To be sure, Mr. Gingrich has since been at pains to emphasize that it was not Mr. Clintons naughtiness that he minded, but his perjury. Well, OK, but really, sir. As the noble Rochefoucauld taught us, Hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue.
As for Mother Church, shell come in for drubbing this weekend for seeming two-faced about the sanctity of marriage. As you know, divorce is still not allowed in the Catholic Church. But here insert a large howevershe is liberal in the granting of annulments.
Mrs. Gingrich #2 publicly ventilated her displeasure back in 2000 after she received a letter from the Archdiocese of Atlanta informing her that her marriage was being annulledthat is, rendered ex post facto invalidon the grounds of ligamen. She had been married previously, so in the eyes of the church her marriage to Mr. Gingrich simply did not take place.
Mother Church can be rigid, but at timesbless hershe can think like a $700-an-hour K Street lawyer. Annulments are granted for a number of reasons: lack of discretion (I didnt realize the bum was a drunk at the time); defective consent (The bum liedhe didnt want kids all along); psychic incapacity (The bum was a schizophrenic!); prior bond (see ligamen, above). As the Rev. John Catoir, a doctor of canon law, points out, Forty years ago, people were told You made your bed, now sleep in it. Thank God this is no longer the Churchs guiding philosophy. If the church had been this progressive in the matter of annulments back in the 1530s in merry olde England, the Archbishop of Canterbury would today be a Roman cardinal. But back to Newt .
His Web sites mottoReal Change Requires Real Changeseems quite apt to the present occasion, even if it sounds like it was lifted from Peter Sellers Chance the Gardener in Being There. Gingrich is a protean fellowcontinually evolving and re-inventing himself. Hes like another of his fellow CatholicsMadonnaonly, well, different.
Personally, Im looking forward to the R.C. Newt. And Id pay a years salary to have been a bug on the wall during his religious instruction. What an interesting catechumen he must have made! I think of Rex Mottram, Julia Flytes determined businessman suitor in Brideshead Revisited, and his obligatory religious instruction from a skeptical Father Mowbray.
Um, Mr. Mottram, how many natures would you say our Blessed Lord had?
Why, as many as you say, Father.
I see .
Mr. Gingrichs brain is a 24/7 phenomenon: Half the time, you sit there just dazzled, the other half you want to stuff a baguette-end in his mouth to make him shut up. In the old days, the church would have assigned their best man to the casea Fulton Sheen. When Clare Boothe Luce, one of the notable Catholic converts of her day, was asked whom she wanted to hear her first confession, she replied, Bring me someone who has seen the rise and fall of empires! They dont make converts like that anymore. Or maybe they do.
Newt Gingrich has certainly seen his own empire rise, and fall. Whether it will rise again is probably doubtful, but it will be interesting to watch. As to the substance of the thing: To paraphrase St. Thomas More, who lost his head over the non-granting of an annulment, I have no window to look into another mans soul. (Unlike, say, George W. Bushs ability to plumb the numinous depths of Vladimir Putins by looking into his icy blues.) It would be churlish in this Lenten season to suppose that Mr. Gingrichs conversion is anything but deeply felt and sincere.
The stated reason for it is that he wishes to worship alongside his wife, who is described on her husbands Web site as a devoted Catholic. To the extent her devotedness is assessed alongside her early relationship with the then-married Mr. Gingrich, it should be borne in mind that to be devoted is not the same as being perfect: She is a member of the choir of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. She has sung for a pope. And, to judge from her photos of a Barry Manilow concert in Las Vegasyou can view the slideshow for yourselfis a capable amateur photographer.
Her singing, along with the prominence of her husband, the most high-level R.C. catch since Tony Blair, will doubtless bring her into continued contact with present and future vicars of Rome. Id give another years salaryor ten thousand more years in Purgatoryto listen in on those audiences. Which puts one inevitably in mind of another Clare Boothe Luce vignette: At one point during one of her papal audiences, the exasperated pontiff is said to have thrown up his hands and said, But Mrs. LuceI too am Catholic!
Excerpts from Christopher Buckley's much-maligned article are featured on another thread today - I figured that some might want to read the article in full, rather than take someone else's word for it.
Watch out Benedict! Just kidding...
King Henry the VIII started the Anglican Church.
No reason a King who KILLED his wives should come between good Catholics and the Church of England, huh?
the POS who doesn’t support his illegitmate son
The negative vibe given off by this guy is overwhelming. Even while cheering his 94 revolution, it was hard to look past his bloated sense of self-importance. Sitting on the couch with Nancy demonstrated his has-been status emphatically. He is definitely not what is needed when trying to preach conservatism to blue state and female America.
“I figured that some might want to read the article in full, rather than take someone else’s word for it.”
Oh ok. I guess posting a Catholic-bashing duplicate so that one can read it for oneself is as good an explanation as any.
*wink wink wink
As today’s gospel taught us, “Let the first one without sin throw the first stone”.
Gingrich’s first wife is deceased and is not in the picture. Whatever the situation with Marianne’s first and second marriages are, I cannot say.
I do, however, admit, this will be a BIG GOSSIP subject just in time for Holy Saturday’s RCIA addmittance of adults to the RC church.
I truly hope Newt’s conversion is sincere. As for the rest of us, we also need conversion day after day. May God have mercy on us all!
I thought Madonna had joined some cultish, Judiasm-related religious movement (Kabbalah, I think)?
All hail the benevolent Murphy!
HEY MONK Check this out
I guess a "stupidity" that includes men like John Henry Newman and G.K. Chesterton is more to my liking than some kinds of "intelligence".
How true. This month’s Magnificat has a litany for conversion of heart. Every day we must renew ourselves and our hearts to God.
Newt’s a sinner, as are all of us. That describes pretty much every Christian, I would assume.
Not catholicism but Roman Catholicism..
You know schismatic catholicism...
Not catholicism but Roman Catholicism..
You know schismatic catholicism...
“King Henry the VIII started the Anglican Church.”
Kind of. The reformers (some don’t call the lower-case catholics “protestants,” but whatever term you want to use for apostolic, non-Roman Catholics) were already well on their way to seperation.
Henry VIII merely got on board the train before it left him at the station.
I am willing to give Newt the benefit of the doubt. Buckley voted for Obama. In my book, he’s done.
The Vicar of Shropsville, etc., has an Anglican ring to it. I think Mr. Buckley got his cultural bearings a tad off.
Campion, as always, is spot on. If only stupid people become Catholic, then I would very much like to share in the stupidity of Newman, Knox, Lunn, Dawson, Benson, Waugh, Chesterton, and so many others.
When the intelligence of these converts is compared with the intelligence of your statement, it is not the converts who come across as rather dimwitted.
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