"The Christianity of history is not Protestantism. If ever there were a safe truth it is this, and Protestantism has ever felt it so; to be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant." (-John Henry Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine).

"Where the bishop is, there let the people gather; just as where ever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church". -St. Ignatius of Antioch (ca 110 AD)a martyr later thrown to the lions, wrote to a church in Asia Minor. Antioch was also where the term "Christian" was first used.

“But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.” 1 Timothy 3:15

"This is the sole Church of Christ, which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic." -CCC 811

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Newt Gingrich: Why I Became Catholic

Source: National Catholic Register - I am often asked when I chose to become Catholic. However, it is more truthful to say that over the course of several years I gradually became Catholic and then decided one day to accept the faith I had already come to embrace.

My wife, Callista, is a lifelong Catholic and has been a member of the choir of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., for 15 years. Although I was Southern Baptist, I had attended Mass with Callista every Sunday at the basilica to watch her sing with the choir.

I accompanied Callista to Rome in 2005, when the choir was invited to sing at St. Peter’s Basilica. While there, I had the opportunity to talk at length with Msgr. Walter Rossi, rector of the basilica in D.C., about faith, history and many of the cultural challenges, including secularism, facing our country. Our conversations were enlightening and intriguing.


During that trip, I experienced my first visit to St. Peter’s Basilica, and I recall marveling at being in the presence of the historic truth of the Church that day.

At the same time, I was being influenced by several books I was reading, including George Weigel’s The Cube and the Cathedral, about the crisis of secularism in Europe, and his book The Final Revolution, about the role of Christianity in freeing Eastern Europe from an atheistic dictatorship.

I was also moved by Pope Benedict’s reflection in his book Jesus of Nazareth that, “God is the issue: Is he real, reality itself, or isn’t he? Is he good, or do we have to invent the good ourselves?”

Throughout our travels, whether Callista and I were in Costa Rica or Africa, she was adamant about finding a local Mass on Sunday. Listening to “Amazing Grace” being sung in Chinese at Mass in Beijing was a beautiful experience, and worshipping with believers across the world opened my eyes to the diversity and richness of the Catholic Church.

Over the course of a decade, the depth of faith and history contained in the life of the Catholic Church were increasingly apparent to me, and the centrality of the Eucharist in the Catholic Mass became more and more clear.

Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the United States in April of 2008 was a turning point for me. The Holy Father presided over solemn vespers with the U.S. bishops in the Crypt Church at the basilica in Washington. Callista’s choir was asked to sing for Pope Benedict at vespers, and as a spouse, I had the unique opportunity to attend the papal visit and was deeply moved by the occasion.

Catching a glimpse of Pope Benedict that day, I was struck by the happiness and peacefulness he exuded. The joyful and radiating presence of the Holy Father was a moment of confirmation about the many things I had been thinking and experiencing for several years.

That evening I told Msgr. Rossi I wanted to be received into the Catholic Church, and he agreed to join Callista as my sponsor. Under his tutelage, I studied the Catechism of the Church over the next year and was received into the Church in March of 2009 in a beautiful Mass at St. Joseph’s on Capitol Hill.

After a decade-long — perhaps lifelong — faith journey, I was finally home.

Newt Gingrich is a former congressman from Georgia and speaker of the House of Representatives from 1994-1999. He and his wife Callista run Gingrich Productions, which made the film Nine Days That Changed the World.

3 comments:

  1. As a born Catholic, I don't see anything special on the conversion story of the Speaker. What is amazing was his clear and strong intent to be one of us despite his upbringing in another faith which is brutally anti-Catholic. Now that he is finally at "home" I am sure that he has proven that the Catholic Church has never been wrong with her doctrines and teachings on morals and faith. The Speaker should now speak the truth to those who are still seeking the truth and to those who falsify the truth wittingly or unwittingly.

    Haydee Manalo
    London, Great Britan

    ReplyDelete
  2. It seems to me that what happened to him is what happens in the majority of cases; not – or not only – a dramatic moment of enlightenment on the way to some personal Damascus, but a gradual approach – in this case clearly helped by the beautiful example of his wife – at the end of which one doesn’t experience conversion, but rather takes notice that it has already happened

    http://www.useddelldesktops.com/

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  3. Donna Shelley says, Interesting from a man who has been divorced twice. I don't begrudge anyone's faith or their journey to it. I believe in all paths to God. I don't understand how Mr. Gingrich's multiple marriages jive with Catholic doctrine.

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