Gingrich blasts "fanaticism of the secularists" at prayer breakfast

The convert and likely candidate for President was the keynote speaker at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast this morning.

One early review:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich delivered the keynote speech at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast Wednesday morning. If the audience’s reaction is any indicator, he’ll have to do a lot more to woo religious conservatives in a presidential run.

Gingrich, who became a Catholic in 2009, discussed his conversion as a gradual process led by his wife Callista, a life-long Catholic. “People ask me why I chose to become Catholic,” he said. “It is more accurate to say that I became Catholic and eventually realized one day that I should accept the faith that surrounded me.”

The former speaker’s appearance at the breakfast shows he’s trying to shore up his religious bona fides, in advance of a possible presidential run. Still, Gingrich’s past affairs and two divorces, including one that an ex-wife said he suggested as she recovered from cancer in the hospital, continue to haunt him. The audience gave him a warm but not hearty round of applause, and many criticized his past infidelities.

“You can say ‘mea culpa’ as many times as you want, but that doesn’t change what he did to his wife,” said one volunteer who asked not to be named because of her affiliation with the organization. “People just don’t forget that kind of thing.”

Read more.

Meantime, CNN has more details about his remarks:

Gingrich walked the audience through his “faith journey to Catholicism” and recalled a discussion with Reverend Monsignor Walter Rossi of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

The two men chatted about “the crisis of secularism in Europe and the growth of a government-favored pagan culture to replace Christianity,” he said, and agreed that American churchgoers are now facing a similar predicament.

“The American elites are guided by their desire to emulate the European elites and, as a result, anti-religious values and principles are coming to dominate the academic, news media, and judicial class in America,” Gingrich said.

Gingrich blasted the “fanaticism of the secularists,” pointing to controversial court rulings, opposition to displays of the cross on public property and a push by scientists to replace the Anno Domini dating system with the Common Era system.

He said the “constant secular pressure” guided him to embrace Catholicism.

“Callista and I have two grandchildren,” he explained. “The more I thought about the culture they are surrounded by and the direction of that culture’s evolution, the more troubled I became. The more I looked at this historic phenomenon, the more I had to come to grips with my own beliefs and my own tolerance of the increasingly aggressive secularization of our country.”

RELATED: Newt’s missed opportunity.

Comments

  1. Mr. Gingrich is a fraud and an opportunist.

  2. And the culture we’re surrounded by is formed by capitalism and greed…..which we worship and for which we go to war

  3. Don from NH says:

    Gingrich and his political party always love to expound on family values he’s a true “family values” man……. dont forget he said just about a month ago that he had an extra martial affairs (while judging other that had) that he did it out of love for his country. Well thats a new way of wrapping yourself in the flag, another trait of his political party.

    Maybe now that he is a Catholic, He will change his feelings toward those that are powerless and weak (the poor and disadvantaged) I doubt it though, his comments of late tell me he the same demagogue he’s always been.

  4. Newt Gingrich, like all of us, has available all the healing grace of God. He can be and I trust is forgiven for what he has done.

    That said, forgiveness is one thing and forgetting another. Speaking for myself, I wish that he would be more humble in speaking about his past rather than being so boastful about his current life as a Catholic.

    Sadly, in the end I feel like I must agree with both Frank and Don above – he does appear opportunistic for one thing. And for another, he seems to have little use for the disenfranchised.

    The grip of secuarlism is not to be ignored, but to make it the cornerstone of his speech concerns me. That is not living the Gospel, it is preaching fear. The way it comes out of his mouth anyway.

  5. It disturbs me that catholics seem to be so unwilling to forgive. At some point in his conversion he would recieve the Sacrament of Reconciliation which means previous sins are fogiven. We need to trust that through God’s grace he is a changed man.
    He is also a pro-life Catholic polititian, something to be embraced.
    As far as his speach, he is not preaching fear, secuarlism is a huge threat even recongized as such by the Church.

  6. MhariDubh says:

    It appears to me that conservatives pick the easy pro-life road. Of course you’re going to be pro-life when it comes to sweet, cute, precious babies.

    How about being pro-life when it comes to the aged, those up for the death penalty, those who live in poverty? The actions of many conservatives (Catholic & Protestant) makes them appear to be hypocrites.

  7. Unapologetic Catholic says:

    He may well be forgiven for past indiscretions and a model Catholic.

    But out of 300 million people we can surely find someone who has a long track record of lived marital fidelity and sexual chastity as candidate for President.

    Call me after a decade of Catholicism and martial fidelity in 2019 and we’ll talk.

  8. As I have never met the man, it is not my place to decide whether he is penitent, a hypocrite, or a complete fraud. Allowing for the benefit of the doubt, let us assume that he had a complete conversion of heart, mind and soul. Wonderful!! He did,however, in his last trip through public office, betray the public trust. He should be forgiven and have a great life … in the private sector. There are many other good people who have not made such blunders available to run for office. Let them have their chance.

  9. awashingtondccatholic says:

    The comments made by MhariDubh is one of the greatest lies perpetuated by those who support abortion.

    Tell me, when we support via our weekly offerings Catholic clinics and hospitals, which provide low or free health care, is that not being pro-life?

    When we help the elderly person next door by going shopping for them or cutting their grass, is that not being pro-life?

    When the Knights of Columbus run their annual Tootsie-Roll Campaign and raise millions for those with mental disabilities, is that not pro-life?

    When we help local Catholic youth groups raise funds for summer work camps, is that not pro-life?

    When parents help to send their children off to these summer work camps, which help poor children or the elderly, is that not pro-life?

    When we work or participate in providing dinners for a family in crisis, is that not pro-life?

    When a family has no job, and we are asked to contribute any amount to help put food on the table, gas in their car, and pay for their mortgage, is that not pro-life?

    I could go on and on, but for those of us who believe that abortion is murder, and carry out these acts, we are living a pro-life life.

    The acts may be large, they may be small, but we don’t have to stand up in the middle of the town square and say “LOOK AT ME. SEE WHAT I HAVE DONE.” to be pro-life, just to appease those who believe that abortion is a God given right.

  10. pagansister says:

    No matter what religion Newt was or is —his track record makes him totally untrustworthy, IMO. Wouldn’t vote for him if he was the only one running for anything!

  11. naturgesetz says:

    Interesting how few commenters care about what Newt Gingrich actually said. I think it is one of the worst things about the way people treat politics in our country today, that perty and personality are all that matters. People don’t care what is being said, just whether it’s coming from their side or the opposition.

    So, to everybody who had uncomplimentary things to say about Newt Gingrich as a person or a politician —

    “There is no attack on American life more destructive and more historically dishonest than the secular Left’s relentless effort to drive God out of America’s public square.” Do you agree, disagree, agree in part and disagree in part?

    “The two men chatted about ‘the crisis of secularism in Europe and the growth of a government-favored pagan culture to replace Christianity,’ he said, and agreed that American churchgoers are now facing a similar predicament.” Do you think he has a point there, is he overstating it, is he talking nonsense?

    “‘The American elites are guided by their desire to emulate the European elites and, as a result, anti-religious values and principles are coming to dominate the academic, news media, and judicial class in America,’ Gingrich said.” Are academia, the news media, and the judiciary hostile, indifferent, or friendly to the values upheld by the Church?

    Do you agree or disagree that our country is becoming increasingly secularized? If we are becoming secularized, is that a good thing or a bad thing in your opinion?

  12. Donal Mahoney says:

    Not too fond of Newtie as a person. But I’d vote for him against any pro-abort politician. And I’d have no problem if Bishop Hubbard gave him the Eucharist with the cameras rolling. Callista is his wife and not a live-in. Such is the power of the sacraments.

  13. “No matter what religion Newt was or is —his track record makes him totally untrustworthy, IMO. Wouldn’t vote for him if he was the only one running for anything!”

    Well if you are looking for candidates without a track record, you will never vote. The radical people our current president hung with didn’t keep people from voting for him.

    I would vote for Newt over Obama in a second.

  14. To those that feel Gingrinch is opportunistic in his conversion, let me remind them that there has only been one president in the history of the US that has not been protestant, and that president had to practically distance himself from the Pope. Converting to Catholicism is hardly the right choice if one is aiming for the US presidency.

    I’m not supporting Gingrinch in the primaries, but I take him at his word of a change of heart. It’s the Christian thing to do.

    Newt has always been pro-life. Obama, the most pro-abortion president in the history of the US, has always been pro-death. I too would vote for Newt over Obama in a heart beat. An unborn child’s heart beat.

  15. Unapologetic Catholic says:

    Fair questions:

    “There is no attack on American life more destructive and more historically dishonest than the secular Left’s relentless effort to drive God out of America’s public square.” Do you agree, disagree, agree in part and disagree in part?

    I disagree. The most destructive attack on American life has been the collapse of the family caused by widespread mainstream acceptance of divorce and loss of respect for monaogamy. Gringrich has been unaplogetically divorced twice and engaged multiple affairs, claiming he was too patriotic to avoid such dalliances. Gingrich is the problem not a solution. His blindness to the harmfulness of sexual misconduct leads him to a wrong conclusion.

    “The two men chatted about ‘the crisis of secularism in Europe and the growth of a government-favored pagan culture to replace Christianity,’ he said, and agreed that American churchgoers are now facing a similar predicament.” Do you think he has a point there, is he overstating it, is he talking nonsense?

    Talking nonsense. There is no widespread European devotion to Loki and no upswing in the number of druid sightings in Europe. Europeans , by every objective measure such as life satisfaction, suicide rates, life expectancy, crime rates, teeange pregnany rates, education and healthcare–are doing fine.

    American churchgoers are genuinely discouraged by the widespread hypocritical and often criminal conduct of church leaders. The bishop’s rotine perjury in handling of the clergy sex abuse crisis is mostly obstruction of jsutice. It is nothing short of despicable. Other demoninationss fare no better and have their own issues and problems. When orgaized Christianty claims such leaders as the Catholic Bishops and, for example, Eddie Long, Creflo Dollar, Kent Hovind, Ted Haggard Jimmy Swaggart and a long list of others, it’s pretty obvious why Chistianity’s influence is diminishing in the public square. Christianity is not being destroyed by external forces, it is being corrupted from within. Gingrich, a contributor to that internal corruption, is not even aware of the problem.

    “Do you agree or disagree that our country is becoming increasingly secularized?”

    Agree.

    “If we are becoming secularized, is that a good thing or a bad thing in your opinion?”

    A temporarily good thing. Actions speak louder than words. When religious people act, they often do wonderful things. When their leaders speak, they speak from a place of hypocricy. We serve God best, sometimes by just shutting up and letting our actions do the talking.

    There are very good people whose personal moral lives demonstate without words that they are candidates to lead our country. I would like to have a once-married president who is obviously in love with his wife and maybe with two children who he loves dearly and can keep his hands off the interns.

    The Democratic Party recently nominated such a man who was subsequently elected. If you think that his interactions with his wife and children were not part of the attraction to voters then you have no soul. Can the Republicans at least meet those minimal qualifications for their 2012 nominee? Is that really too much to ask? Apparently it is too much to ask—-Donald Trump is a leading contender?!

    Gingrich is like a lifelong alcoholic, suddenly sober for 12 days, superciliously lecturing lifelong teetotalers on the evils of drink. He doesn’t have enough experience to lecture on what he speaks of.

    Wrong message, wrong time, by the wrong messenger. Get someone else.

  16. UnapologeticCatholic — Great post. For the most part you nailed it!

    I disagree only with the comment about the acceptance of divorce as the most destructive attack on American life. I think the crux of the problem is greed and its corollaries; lack of charity/empathy toward the less fortunate and an unwillingness to contribute to the betterment of society in general.

  17. pagansister says:

    RomCath: Hard to want a man in office who would leave his wife (s) while they were seriously ill. Now he is on #3. Will he leave her too, if she gets sick? Yes, all poliiticans have a past, just like everyone else. There are a lot of others I wouldn’t vote for either. My man is in office right now and I will vote for him in the next election.

  18. Pagansister — I’m with you, the man now in office is mine, too.

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