Callista Gingrich will almost certainly be the next American ambassador to the Holy See. This has been in the works for a while. Since the election, Mrs. Gingrich’s name is frequently floated and in January, it was confirmed that she is being considered.
Plugged-in Vatican journalist Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register seems to think Gingrich’s appointment is all but a done deal. He reported yesterday:
One informed source told the Register they would be “very surprised” if Mrs. Gingrich was not appointed, and that the announcement is expected very soon. Newt Gingrich was one of Trump’s most vocal supporters during last year’s presidential campaign.
Callista Gingrich (née Bisek) is a Catholic of Polish-Swiss ancestry who, after working in Congress and marrying Newt, went on to host a number of documentaries as part of Gingrich Productions, including the film Nine Days That Changed the World — a tribute to the role Pope St. John Paul II played in the fall of Communism in Europe and in the rise of the Solidarity movement.
An author of children’s books, Mrs. Gingrich also sings in the choir of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and last October, she and her fellow choristers performed in Rome.
Is Mrs. Gingrich a great choice? I don’t think so. Not everyone who sings in her church choir, writes children’s books, or even hosts documentaries about Pope St. John Paul II is necessarily going to add much to the United States’ diplomatic relations with the Holy See.
But the harsh treatment Mrs. Gingrich has received on social media is tacky and unhelpful. Inordinate focus on the Gingriches’ sexual and marital history obscures the many more legitimate reasons she may not be the best pick for this post.
Anyway, plenty of politicians (and politicians’ spouses) are known to have carried on extramarital affairs. Mr. Gingrich’s hypocrisy for relentlessly pursing President Bill Clinton while carrying on his own affair is, of course, unfortunate.
Still, it is unlikely that the post is going to significantly affect US-Vatican relations. Presidents often dole out prestigious ambassadorships to political donors and allies. In particular, European embassies are plum posts for cronies because A) the locations are considered desirable and B) diplomatic crises are almost unheard of. Recall that President Trump is reportedly giving the Austria ambassadorship to a guy who is obsessed with The Sound of Music.
Look, I would obviously prefer a qualified ambassador. But there’s no need to be aghast if Trump selects Mrs. Gingrich. This is politics as usual.
I don’t understand why liberals so often ignore the legitimate arguments about Trump and associates (unqualified) and levy personal, though perhaps irrelevant attacks (marital infidelity). To use yesterday’s example, Sean Spicer: He’s clearly bad at his job and in way over his head. He said something really unfortunate about Hitler and the Holocaust. On Passover. But he doesn’t hate Jews. And his gaffe isn’t the primary reason he should be fired.
When I tweeted the news about Gingrich yesterday, I got a lot of responses that attacked her personally for moral failings but did not address her qualifications or the job’s demands. That’s unfortunate.
Not an expert but I think the Church teaches that adultery is a sin for which penitent people can receive forgiveness https://t.co/emECzph4my
— Jacob Lupfer (@jlupf) April 12, 2017
I doubt Pope Francis or anyone else in the Vatican is especially excited about the prospect of this particular American ambassador. But I don’t think the Holy Father would hold her old sins against her.