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Exclusive: Newt Gingrich Opens Up on Catholic Conversion and Embracing 'Overt Christianity'
USA ^ | May 20, 2009 | Dan Gilgoff

Posted on 05/21/2009 8:29:46 AM PDT by NYer

Former House speaker and Republican überstrategist Newt Gingrich is off to Europe next week to shoot a documentary on Pope John Paul II's 1979 trip to Poland and how it helped to lay the groundwork for bringing down the Soviet Union. The film, Nine Days That Changed the World, is slated for release this fall.

The trip will take Gingrich and his wife, Callista, to Poland and to Rome for the first time since he converted to Roman Catholicism in March.

I caught up with Gingrich this morning and asked if he expected this trip to be different from previous visits to Rome. He gave a long answer that had him opening up about the reasons for his conversion to an extent he hasn't done publicly before: 

I don't know that it's much different. That's part of what led to my conversion is the first time we [he and Callista] went to St. Peter's together. It's St. Peter's. I mean, you stand there and you think, this is where St. Peter was crucified. This is where Paul preached. You think to yourself, two thousand years ago the apostles set out to create a worldwide movement by witnessing to the historic truth they had experienced. And there it is. The last time we were there we were allowed to walk in the papal gardens and you get this sense that is almost mystical.

The moment that finally convinced me [to convert] was when Benedict XVI came here [to the United States] and Callista in the church choir sang for him at the vespers service and all the bishops in the country were there. As a spouse, I got to sit in the upper church and I very briefly saw [Benedict] and I was just struck with how happy he was and how fundamentally different he was from the news media's portrait of him. This guy's not a Rottweiler. He's a very loving, engaged, happy person.

I'd first seen Pope John Paul II when he came to the U.S. when Carter was president and I was a freshman congressman. And I [later] met him as Speaker.

The other sense is that the church has had two of its most powerful popes back to back, in their intellectual ability to engage the secular world on behalf of Christ. And the weight of all that, and going with [Callista] to church every Sunday to the Basilica [in Washington, D.C.], a magnificent church with a wonderful mass. In that sense I felt differently a long time ago, which is why I converted.

And part of me is inherently medieval. I resonate to Gothic churches and the sense of the cross in a way that is really pre-modern.

Callista, who is Catholic and who was key to Gingrich's conversion, added that it was "10 years in the making," starting around the time Gingrich left the House in 1999. I asked Gingrich if his conversion had changed some fundamental political beliefs for him. He said it was the other way around—that political developments had made him more overtly Christian:

The whole effort to create a ruthless, amoral, situational ethics culture has probably driven me toward a more overt Christianity. I'll give you an example. As a college student at Emory when the Supreme Court ruled that school prayer was unconstitutional [in 1963] after 170 years of American history, I didn't notice it. As a graduate student at Tulane I probably would have said it's a good decision.

I've now had an additional 40 years to think about it. And I think about the world of my grandchildren. I don't think American children are healthier, safer, and better off today than they were in 1963. So I have actually become more conservative in response to the failure of the liberal ethos to solve problems.



TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Ministry/Outreach
KEYWORDS: catholic; conversions; gingrich

1 posted on 05/21/2009 8:29:46 AM PDT by NYer
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To: Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...
The moment that finally convinced me [to convert] was when Benedict XVI came here [to the United States] and Callista in the church choir sang for him at the vespers service and all the bishops in the country were there. As a spouse, I got to sit in the upper church and I very briefly saw [Benedict] and I was just struck with how happy he was and how fundamentally different he was from the news media's portrait of him. This guy's not a Rottweiler. He's a very loving, engaged, happy person.

Ping!

2 posted on 05/21/2009 8:30:55 AM PDT by NYer ("Run from places of sin as from a plague." - St. John Climacus)
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To: NYer

It’s clear that both this Pope and his predecessor have been a significant factor in Newt’s conversion.


3 posted on 05/21/2009 8:34:13 AM PDT by marshmallow ("A country which kills its own children has no future" -Mother Teresa of Calcutta)
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To: marshmallow

IMO, Pres. Bush will be next.


4 posted on 05/21/2009 8:39:18 AM PDT by georgia peach (georgia peach)
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To: marshmallow

Happy for Newt but Jesus Christ is the reason that I am a Christian and I hope it is for him also.


5 posted on 05/21/2009 8:42:40 AM PDT by NativeTxn
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To: NYer
Nice article. Good for Newt.

Welcome home, Mr. Speaker.
6 posted on 05/21/2009 8:43:43 AM PDT by Antoninus (Now accepting apologies from repentant Mittens.)
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To: NYer
What a great day is this, the Day of Ascension.
On my 50th birthday I did a pilgrimage to Rome and the Holy See. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life, to attend Mass at the Alter of St. Peter was wonderful.
7 posted on 05/21/2009 8:44:27 AM PDT by Jolla
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To: marshmallow

I will never forget when the Pope first visited America (as the Pope) and His Holiness humbly kissed the ground and proclaimed, “God Bless America!”

Now, contrast this to what BHO’s pastor said about America.

Truly pathetic the times we are living in.


8 posted on 05/21/2009 8:44:47 AM PDT by Welcome2thejungle
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To: NativeTxn
"Happy for Newt but Jesus Christ is the reason that I am a Christian..."

Newt said the Pope was the reason he became a Catholic. I am assuming he was a Christian, to some degree, before hand.

9 posted on 05/21/2009 8:45:51 AM PDT by Natural Law
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To: NYer

This is going to make Newt’s next trophy-wife upgrade a bit awkward....


10 posted on 05/21/2009 9:02:23 AM PDT by steve-b (Intelligent design is to evolutionary biology what socialism is to free-market economics.)
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To: NativeTxn

>>Happy for Newt but Jesus Christ is the reason that I am a Christian and I hope it is for him also.<<

Catholics are Christians. Did you know that?
We choose our denominations or no denomination by what we need.
The Presbyterians didn’t offer me much that I needed (refused to Baptize my daughter until I was “accepted” to their community). The Baptists had really fun services and great love for each other, my favorite Aunt was a Methodist, but I didn’t see much for myself there and I was reading the Bible and getting things wrong so I needed guidance.

I went back to my roots. Although I respect many other churches, they were not for me. Christ is my loving savior, but my parish is home.


11 posted on 05/21/2009 9:05:58 AM PDT by netmilsmom (Psalm 109:8 - Let his days be few; and let another take his office)
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To: NYer
And part of me is inherently medieval. I resonate to Gothic churches and the sense of the cross in a way that is really pre-modern.

*******************

I think I understand exactly what he means.

12 posted on 05/21/2009 9:36:01 AM PDT by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: NativeTxn

Why would you interject that? Are you under some prejudice that Jesus isn’t the center of the Catholic church too or something?


13 posted on 05/21/2009 10:05:07 AM PDT by chris_bdba
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To: NativeTxn

Why would you interject that? Are you under some prejudice that Jesus isn’t the center of the Catholic church too or something?


14 posted on 05/21/2009 10:05:14 AM PDT by chris_bdba
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To: chris_bdba

Sorry about the double post I swear I only hit it once. :o


15 posted on 05/21/2009 10:07:08 AM PDT by chris_bdba
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To: trisham

I do udnerstand that a lot. The church I was born into is over 150 years old and still has her magnificent stained glass windows. There is something just breath taking to it sitting there while mass is going on and watching the sunlight throw colors across everyone. I used to get in trouble with Mom when I was little for reaching up into them to touch the sun rays. I still want to do that but can restrain myslef now. :)


16 posted on 05/21/2009 10:11:23 AM PDT by chris_bdba
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To: chris_bdba

Heh. That’s a nice story. :)


17 posted on 05/21/2009 10:14:29 AM PDT by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: georgia peach
I heard from semi-reliable sources that GWB considered converting to Catholicism while he was in the White House, but that Laura Bush discouraged it (not because LB had anything against Catholicism, but because she feared the criticism the left would aim at Bush if he became Catholic while still president).
18 posted on 05/21/2009 10:52:22 AM PDT by utahagen
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To: Jolla
Altar
19 posted on 05/21/2009 11:54:53 AM PDT by A.A. Cunningham (Barry Soetoro is a Kenyan communist)
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To: utahagen

Thank you for that information.It sounds right.


20 posted on 05/21/2009 12:23:46 PM PDT by georgia peach (georgia peach)
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To: steve-b

“This is going to make Newt’s next trophy-wife upgrade a bit awkward....”

Oh stop it. Number one, Newt is much older and wiser now, and like most men, those sexual urges start to subscribe. Number two, Newt loved Callista enough that for the last 10 years he joined her in attending her Church (Newt was a Baptist). Number three, Newt is a philosopher type, and the church best suited to a philosophical bent is definitely the Catholic Church. Number four, sometimes you have to kiss a number of frogs to get to your Prince (or in this case Princess). Not all marriages are a match made in heaven (remember, Ronald Reagan’s first marriage didn’t work out either and ended in divorce.

As Newt’s two previous marriages were outside of the Catholic Church, he didn’t need an annullment, and I’m sure he went to confession to come “clean” so to speak within his new religious home. His Church has forgiven him his sins, how about you do too, unless, of course, you yourself are not religious.


21 posted on 05/21/2009 12:45:08 PM PDT by flaglady47 (Four years of captivity, no relief in sight)
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To: flaglady47

correction: “subside” above, not “subscribe”, LOL!


22 posted on 05/21/2009 12:47:40 PM PDT by flaglady47 (Four years of captivity, no relief in sight)
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To: flaglady47

Sorry. Me no make excuses for Billy-Jeff, me no make excuses for Newtie.


23 posted on 05/21/2009 12:53:25 PM PDT by steve-b (Intelligent design is to evolutionary biology what socialism is to free-market economics.)
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To: steve-b

So you are from the religion of Hate.

Newt is very close with his two daughters and grandchildren.
He just co authored a book with one of is daughters.
Strange they don’t have the hate you do.


24 posted on 05/21/2009 3:39:09 PM PDT by SoCalPol (Reagan Republican for Palin 2012)
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To: netmilsmom

Well put!


25 posted on 05/21/2009 4:53:31 PM PDT by PatriotGirl827 (Pray for the United States of America!)
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To: SoCalPol

I’m just an old-fashioned stiff-necked moralist.


26 posted on 05/21/2009 7:29:38 PM PDT by steve-b (Intelligent design is to evolutionary biology what socialism is to free-market economics.)
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To: flaglady47

So, it’s virtuous to stop sinning after temptation is taken away. Gotcha....


27 posted on 05/21/2009 7:30:41 PM PDT by steve-b (Intelligent design is to evolutionary biology what socialism is to free-market economics.)
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To: georgia peach

I’ve been wondering that myself. There have been a few things that happened that made me think it was a possibility. I was first struck by it when the Pope visited him; they seemed so comfortable together and so happy to see each other.


28 posted on 05/22/2009 7:12:51 AM PDT by Melian ("Now, Y'all without sin can cast the first stone." ~H.I. McDunnough)
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To: Melian

Yes, that for sure and the fact that he seemed so moved by everything surrounding John Paul’s funeral.


29 posted on 05/22/2009 8:24:21 AM PDT by georgia peach (georgia peach)
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