Newt Gingrich on his conversion

A kind reader sent the following transcript of the exchange between Chris Wallace and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who has just been received into the Catholic Church.

Congressional Quarterly has posted a transcript of “Fox News Sunday,” including this exchange between Chris Wallace and Newt Gingrich about the former House speaker’s conversion to Catholicism:

WALLACE: Mr. Gingrich, you have been a Baptist most of your life, and last Sunday you converted to Catholicism. Why, sir?

GINGRICH: I’m not talking about this much publicly, but let me just say that I found over the course of the last decade, attending the basilica, meeting with Monsignor Rossi, reading the literature, that there was a peace in my soul and a sense of well being in the Catholic Church, and I found the mass of conversion last Sunday one of the most powerful moments of my life.

WALLACE: You have — it’s no secret — been married and divorced twice. Will you be able to participate fully in communion and all the other rites of the Catholic Church?

GINGRICH: Yes, we have done everything within the law of the church, following all of the rules of the church over the last 10 years. And it’s been a process. It’s been a very long process and something which was deeply affected, in part, by Pope Benedict XVI’s visit and the opportunity I had to sit in — as you know, my wife, Calista, sings at the basilica every Sunday, and I was allowed as a spouse to be there as part of the vespers program when the pope came. It’s been a long process.

WALLACE: And if I might ask, just briefly, what is it about the pope’s visit that led to this?

GINGRICH: I really believe, first of all, seeing the joy in his eyes, listening to his message, and I really believe that his basic statement, Christ our hope, is right. And I think much of what’s wrong with our country and with the western world is a function of looking inside ourselves, not just looking at money or looking at our wallets.


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  1. I have always liked Newt. May God reward him for his Conversion to the true faith.

  2. Sal says:

    I like the statement about seeing the joy in the Pope’s eyes during Vespers. Benedict is the best “advertisement,” if you will, for Catholicism. He believes in it, lives it, and communicates it.

  3. Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada says:

    The Benedictine Pontificate: “By their fruits you shall know them.”

  4. Sid says:

    In my neck of the woods, many convert to the church of their spouse, usually the wife’s. Speaking only practically, where the woman is, there is the Church”.

  5. Christa says:

    I had been curious about the Catholic Church for some time, having become a fan of Mother Angelica\’s program. When Pope Benedict appeared on the balcony after he had been named Pope, I was struck by the Light of Christ shining from his face.

    I enrolled in RCIA the next day. This Pope has a special place in my heart, because he led me to the Church.

  6. Sid says:

    In my neck of the woods, many convert to the church of their spouse, usually the wife’s. Speaking only practically: Where the woman is, there is the Church

  7. irishgirl says:

    Yes, I’ve always liked Newt, too….

    Welcome to the Faith, sir!

  8. Woody Jones says:

    I am very happy for Newt that he has finally made the journey home like so many of us. I found it very interesting that it was Msgr Walter Rossi of the Basilica of the National Shrine who was instrumental in his conversion. I will go there to give thanks (for this and other blessings) when I am there next in May). I pray that Speaker Gingrich will be given the grace to grow in the knowledge of the Faith and the love of God.

  9. Connie says:

    Can anyone knowledgeable speculate about how the issue of prior marriages might have been resolved in favor of Newt’s present (third) marriage? [Not a good idea, really.]

  10. “Comment by Connie — 6 April 2009 @ 10:14 am”

    The details of such proceedings are generally not made public, so “anyone knowledgeable” is likely not to disclose anything. Enough has been said for the rest of us to conclude, that whatever needed resolving has been resolved.

  11. Vincenzo says:

    Christa wrote:

    “When Pope Benedict appeared on the balcony after he had been named Pope, I was struck by the Light of Christ shining from his face.”

    I was struck by this too at the time.

  12. RBrown says:

    NG is well known as a voracious reader. I hope that now he dives into the Apologists, e.g., Lewis, Chesterton, and von Zeller.

  13. Rachel says:

    I’m impressed that he says he found the “mass of conversion” one of the most powerful moments of his life. Sounds like it took.

  14. Ron says:

    It seems odd that this was done during Lent and not during the Easter Vigil or later in the Easter Season.

  15. Jake says:

    Ron, at the same time, I think that this was also done privately with Msgr. Rossi, as if it were done during the actual Vigil, I think Mr. Gingrich might have been accused by some to create a spectacle of his conversion (as the Vigil Mass is always broadcast from the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on EWTN). I also find the move peculiar, as well, but I can understand wanting this sort of thing to be done in private and away from the glare of the public eye.

    As for Mr. Gingrich’s conversion, I hope he finds many happy years here at home. I will make sure to include him in my prayers.

  16. MAJ Tony says:

    Connie: It’s complicated, and brings up more questions than it answers and I have yet to find a correct answer as to how it all went down. I have to agree w/Fr. Z that it’s best not to speculate.

  17. Liz F. says:

    Perhaps Mr. Newt can lead us out of this mess our country finds itself in. I’ve always admired his politics and now I am so happy that he has joined the Church.

  18. Hal Duston says:

    I noted with interest the use of the word “joy” to describe Benedict XVI. I too have thought much the same. That seems to be one of the significant differences between Benedict and John Paul II. It seems to me that where John Paul showed love, Benedict shows joy, both of course being fruits of the H.S. I find it quite fascinating to see this and other differences between the two men.

  19. Maureen says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — tons of people are received into the Church on other days than Easter Vigil. It happens all the time, and I’ve seen it several times in my parish alone. (I think it’s mostly with baptized people who are ready early, or people who have a baby who needs baptizing quick.) It’s very common for this to happen right before the new school year, right before Advent, right after Epiphany, etc.

    If it’s odd to have the business happen late in Lent, remember that this year there was a lot of sicknesses going around at the usual post-Christmas times, and that Lent came early as well.

  20. Jane says:

    I am very happy for him.

  21. MAJ Tony says:

    Maureen: who waits to baptize babies until Easter Vigil?

  22. Bob says:

    The Easter Vigil is the proper setting for baptism. Baptized Christians coming into “full communion with the Church” can be received at any time.

  23. Fr O says:

    As to how the marriage issue was worked out, it’s no great mystery. presumably there were annulments granted where needed. In annulment, the Church finds that a marriage was not sacramental, albeit legal, bc something essential was missing from the start, such as clergy or proper intentions or full, informed consent of both partners. that is the process any previously married RCIA candidate goes thru, regardless of the number of prior marriages.

  24. Maureen says:

    If they have a baby who needs baptizing, it’s nice to have the parents confirmed before their kid gets initiated into the Church! Even if it’s only three minutes before. :)

  25. "Joan" says:

    I hope no one minds my going off topic and answering Connie, facts as to how my own case went, not speculation on the Gingrich’s.

    I am a cradle Catholic, Darby was raised Lutheran.
    When we met and fell in love he had been married twice.
    He told me he had decided never to marry again because he loved me and knew that as a Catholic I could not marry him.
    I asked, had he never heard of annulment?
    His first marriage was contracted when he was young, before a Methodist minister.
    He and his 1st wife wanted no children, and both came from unhappy homes and agreed up front that in the event of it “not working out” they would cut their losses.
    Since they had intentions against procreation and against the indissolubility of the sacrament, a decree of nullity was fairly easily obtained.
    The 2nd marriage was in front of a notary with a Catholic woman, who asked for an “open marriage.”
    Since she was a Catholic she violated form in contracting a civil marriage, but even had she not been Catholic, her intentions, (on which she still acts and was more than happy to testify,) would have been grounds for a decree of nullity.

    There are many, both complicated and simple, ways in which marriages can be regularized, and it is wrong to speculate on anyone else’s.

    Darby and I are very happy, and he has come into the Church.

    I know some think the Church is too free with nullity decrees, but they are a great blessing when justified.

    Sorry for the rabbit-hole.

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