I do not follow enough US politics to be able to judge whether Newt Gingrich is a Catholic a’ la Tony Blair, or a sincere one instead.
Still, I found this article with his reflections about his own conversion path both inspiring and indicative.
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.
I also found rather moving that a Southern Baptist – probably, though I can’t be sure of that, raised up in the condemnation of the pomp and splendour of the Papacy – would come to the first powerful realisation of his already happened acceptance of Catholic truth within the walls of St. Peter’s. I liked this, because I have always believed – and have often written about this – that the symbolism of the Catholic church is very powerful, and the splendour of her churches are one of the most striking aspects of this symbolism.
Also please notice that Mr. Gingrich had the humility of studying the catechism for one year even after having followed the catholic mass for one decade and a half and having been – one wants to hope – already subject to more Catholic doctrine than most western cradle Catholics alive. This is the right attitude, and it is beautiful that he mentions it with a natural humility that does him honour.
I do not know how sincere or orthodox a Catholic Mr. Gingrich will be. But I think that it can safely be said that he would be – in case – an infinitely more Christian President of the United States than “punished with a child”, no-bible-in-the-office, late-abortion-as-first-priority Hussein Obama.
In just a few days, the autobiography of George W Bush will hit the bookshelves. From the parts already given to the public as appetizers it would appear that Bush was moved from the firm stance of the Pope about embryonic stem cell research to severely (if not completely) restrict research activities which would lead to the killing of embryonic lives.
This piece of information is important for several reasons. The first is to show that Bush (a great president if you ask me; not as great as Reagan for sure, but infinitely better than Al Gore would have ever been, every day of the week) was, ever after becoming the most powerful man on the planet, humble and perceptive enough to change his mind about important moral issues. One compares with Obama, and stuns.
The second is the fact that the separation of Church and state doesn’t mean that a President can’t think Christian, let alone that he shouldn’t be guided in his actions by Christian motives. Again, the comparison with a President who comes to the point of expunging references to God when mentioning the Declaration of Independence is evident. Bush’s life rests on his faith, Obama’s on his absence of it.
The third is – and it is sad to have to say it here, but say it we must – that when the two men were obviously disagreeing, it was – if you ask me; but you are reading this, so you are – the President who was right.
The widely publicised personal opinion of the Pope, that the war in Iraq was wrong, has been too often manipulated and misconstrued as a kind of “Catholic doctrine of pacifism”, which would be open heresy but which has been eagerly seized by pacifists, cathocommies and assorted lefties the world over. The parallel affirmation of Joseph Ratzinger – that it be perfectly legitimate for Catholics to disagree whether the Iraq war is opportune, or not – is on the other hand ignored with beautiful regularity and when it was first uttered did not fail to shock honest but misinformed Catholics confusing JP II’s protopacifism with Catholic teaching.
The truth is that John Paul II – whether because of sincere desire for peace or because less and less able to think clearly, or more probably for both reasons together – abandoned himself, particularly in his last years, to a sort of “kindergarten Catholicism” never short of a trite banality and of a common place but very palatable for the masses, particularly the non-Catholic ones. He drove things to the point of giving a completely distorted perception of Catholic Doctrine on a series of issues: on the legitimacy of war, where the ultima ratio criterium was pushed to absurd consequences, just two millimetres away from open heresy; on the Crusades, where carefully worded anodyne declarations spread the impression (make no mistake: wanted) that he had asked for forgiveness for them; on ecumenism, where to the much-publicised Assisi madness the effrontery of the kissing of a Koran was added; on the prestige and dignity of the Papacy, where he went to the point of participating to a rock concert and being publicly scolded as a result; or on the death penalty, where two thousand years of Christian teaching were conveniently re-interpreted as to give the impression that nothing short of Holocaust would ever justify the capital punishment.
Thankfully, our Dubya was rapid in following the Pope when he was right but equally as prompt in disappointing him when he (the Pope) was wrong. Granted, Bush is not a Catholic (for now at least: rumours of his conversions have made the round of the blogosphere already), but he certainly has that kind of solid common sense thinking, deep felt religious feeling, and ability to act with courage when necessary which have been the stuff of many an excellent Catholic converts before him.
I am in no doubt that he would make a much better convert than Tony Blair, although like the latter he’d have to fight the negative influence of his spouse. On the occcasion of the publishing of his book, I’d be glad if you would join me in a short prayer for his health and serenity, and for his conversion.