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Gingrich’s Catholic Journey Began With Third Wife

Any discussion of Newt Gingrich's journey to Catholicism begins with his wife.

"I have always been a very spiritual person," Callista Gingrich told the Christian Broadcasting Network this year. "I start each day with a prayer, and pray throughout the day, because I am grateful for the many blessings that God has bestowed upon us."

Mrs. Gingrich, who is Newt Gingrich's third wife, is a devout Catholic who sings in the professional choir at the the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. After they married in 2000, Gingrich began attending Mass practically every week to watch her perform.

"And I was doing that as a supportive husband, and it sort of caught up with me in a way I could never imagine," Gingrich told the Catholic TV network EWTN.

A Slower And Headier Process

Gingrich didn't convert to Catholicism in a sudden swell of emotion. Rather, it seemed a slower and headier process. Like many adult converts, Gingrich was drawn by the philosophical richness of the Roman Catholic Church.

"Let's not forget this is a Ph.D., a former professor, a man who loves books and loves big ideas, and there is of course a very deep intellectual tradition within Catholicism," says Mark Rozell, a political scientist at George Mason University. "And perhaps Gingrich found a natural connection there. It connects with his persona."

Gingrich began studying the history of the Catholic Church and its influence on Western civilization, especially the church's role in the fall of communism. In 2010, Newt and Callista Gingrich produced a documentary about Pope John Paul II's historic trip to Poland. But for Gingrich, the turning point was Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the U.S. in 2008.

"The joyful and radiating presence of the Holy Father was a moment of confirmation of the many things I had been thinking and experiencing over the last several years," Gingrich said at a Catholic prayer breakfast this year.

That evening, Gingrich told Monsignor Walter Rossi, the rector at the basillica, that he wanted to be received into the church. He was confirmed on March 29, 2009. He says that conversion made him a different man.

No Erasing The Past

"I have a sense of being at peace," Gingrich told EWTN. "I understand when you give the sign of peace, and when the priest says, 'Peace be with you,' in a way I never did 10 or 15 years ago. I have a deep personal sense of what that means."

But his conversion doesn't erase his past. After all, Gingrich has a history of marital infidelity. He cheated on his first wife, and his relationship with Callista, his third wife, began six years before the end of his second marriage. She was a staffer 23 years his junior; he was a Republican congressman who had yet to become speaker of the House.

"Without a doubt," says Rozell, "many people will find it rather strange, ironic, whatever, that his religious journey that led him to convert to Catholicism began with an affair he had with a young woman while he was still married to his second wife."

That has become satirical fodder for some conservative Christians, including video commentator Molotov Mitchell, whose scorching video went viral by describing Callista Gingrich as "quite the missionary — First Lady material, all the way."

Gingrich acknowledges his sins and says — in religious language — that he has sought forgiveness.

"People have to render judgment," he said in a recent debate in Iowa. "In my case, I've said upfront openly, I've made mistakes at times. I've had to go to God for forgiveness. I've had to seek reconciliation. But I'm also a 68-year-old grandfather, and I think people have to measure who I am now and whether I'm a person they can trust."

Raymond Arroyo, news director of EWTN, who covered Gingrich in the 1980s, sees "a marked change in Gingrich."

"He does seem more settled, more comfortable in his own skin, not as pugnacious, if you will. Surely part of it is a political calculation, but I think part of it might be spiritual as well."

But Mathew Schmalz, a political scientist at Holy Cross College in Worcester, Mass., isn't so sure.

"It seems to me that his grandiosity for which he is well-known has been held in check during the campaign," Schmalz says. "But nonetheless there have been glimpses of what one would call the 'old Newt Gingrich.' "

Culture-Warrior Catholicism

Schmalz cites as an example Gingrich's response to rival Mitt Romney, when Romney suggested Gingrich return the $1.6 million he received from mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

"I would just say," Gingrich told reporters, "if Gov. Romney wants to give back all the money he's earned from bankrupting companies and laying off employees over his years at Bain, that I would be glad to listen to him. And I would bet you $10 — not $10,000 — that he would not take the offer."

Whether or not Gingrich's style and character have changed, his conversion from Southern Baptist to Catholic is playing well with some evangelicals.

"They would prefer to have somebody who's a very devout Catholic and strong on the social issues [rather] than, say, a lukewarm Southern Baptist, as many perceived Gingrich was in his past and perhaps a little bit soft on the issues they care about very deeply," says political scientist Rozell.

He adds that Gingrich's type of culture-warrior Catholicism — anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, decrying the rise of secular America — aligns him nicely with the conservative voters Gingrich needs to win the early contests.

Comments

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | December 22, 2011 at 11:19 a.m. ― 2 years, 7 months ago

Both Newt and Callista Gingrich are religious hypocrites and prime examples of sleazy, disgusting people who wrap themselves in religion to hide their greed and sexual indiscretions.

Everyone points out Gingrich cheated on 2 wives, which I will get to in a bit, but first I would like to point out that Callista, this supposed "devoutly pious Catholic," knew she was a cheating mistress while she was having sex with Gingrich (eeeew!) while he was married.

So, according to the Gingrichs, Newt's "spiritual world" was solidified and he became a devoutly religious man because of his **MISTRESS!**

Does Newt or Callista realize how ridiculous this sounds?

"My **MISTRESS** is responsible for turning my life around and making me religious."

So, when people criticize Newt, I think they should also be critical of his Ice Queen Wife who is just as big of a phony as Gingrich is.

Let's face it, a couple who lies, cheats, and then takes money from tax payers under the guise of being a "hired historian" for Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac are **filth** no matter how many tiffany diamonds they wear or how many times they go to church.

Now back to Gingrich's sexual cheating.

I realize that sometimes marriages don't work out, and divorce happens. That in itself is not something I would normally attack a public figure for. But in Gingrich's case, the circumstances make it particularly disgusting.

First, the medical conditions of his former wives were both dire when he abandoned them.

He left his first wife when she was in the hospital battling cancer, and Gingrich's campaign treasurer LH Carter has revealed Gingrich said at the time, ""She's not young enough or pretty enough to be the wife of the President. And besides, she has cancer."

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | December 22, 2011 at 11:19 a.m. ― 2 years, 7 months ago

(continued )

Gingrich married his then mistress who was over 20 years younger, and then announced he wanted a divorce to her on Mother's Day 1999 after his 2nd wife found out she had a neurological that could lead to multiple sclerosis.

Of course the reason he did this is because he had yet another mistress, his current wife Callista, who is also more than 20 years his junior.

And of course Callista (who was a Congressional Staffer) and Gingrich were having a sexual affair during the time Gingrich was point-person for trying to impeach President Bill Clinton for lying about his infidelity with Monica Lewinsky.

This is all the personal hypocrisy and filth of the Gingrich's private life, I haven't even touched on the lying and cheating in his professional life.

Newt Gingrich is the only Speaker of the House of Representatives to have been sanctioned for ethics violations.

**With all this lying, cheating, greed, abandonment, and pain inflicted on others, this hideous couple now parades themselves around high-brow Washington events claiming to be moral superiors and wholesome religious people.**

And Gingrich also has the nerve to say allowing Gay Americans to marry would "destroy the sanctity of marriage".

Interesting logic, "Newt". A monogamous gay couple who have lived together for 3 decades and who have been upstanding, law-abiding people would **"destroy the sanctity of marriage"** but abandoning ill family members and carrying on sexual affairs doesn't destroy any sanctity!?!?!?!?!?!

If I ever was to come face to face with either of these two jerks, it would take everything in my power to stop myself from spitting in their faces. That is how dangerous I feel these two filthy pigs are to the United States of America.

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Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | December 22, 2011 at 2:58 p.m. ― 2 years, 7 months ago

The sparks will really fly when he leaves his third wife for a Muslim and converts to Islam!

Don't laugh! I wouldn't put it past Newt Gin-Grinch.

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