An able am­bas­sador to the Holy See

Cal­lista Gin­grich is much more than the for­mer House speaker’s third wife

The Washington Times Daily - - OPINION - By Deal W. Hud­son Deal W. Hud­son, for­mer pub­lisher of Cri­sis Mag­a­zine, served a chair­man of Catholic out­reach at the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee un­der Ge­orge W. Bush.

Amer­ica should wel­come the nom­i­na­tion of Cal­lista Gin­grich as the 11th U.S. am­bas­sador to the Holy See. Mrs. Gin­grich brings the nec­es­sary skill sets to nav­i­gate the some­times labyrinthine in­ter­face be­tween pol­i­tics and the Catholic Church. And for Catholics, just as Pres­i­dent Trump has kept his prom­ises to ap­point a pro-life jus­tice to the U.S. Supreme Court and by cut­ting abor­tion fund­ing, he has nom­i­nated a com­mit­ted, prac­tic­ing Catholic as who is fully qual­i­fied to rep­re­sent the in­ter­ests of the United States to the Holy See.

Mrs. Gin­grich is pro-life and con­ser­va­tive, ar­tic­u­late and savvy — her pro-life con­vic­tions in­sure the pro-life po­lices of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion will be the mes­sage con­veyed to the Vat­i­can by the U.S. Em­bassy to the Holy See. She also has the ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing the wife to the in­de­fati­ga­ble pub­lic ser­vant and for­mer U.S. House Speaker Newt Gin­grich. No doubt hav­ing an ex­pe­ri­enced politi­cian and pro­fes­sional his­to­rian at her side while she rep­re­sents the United States is a sig­nif­i­cant bonus.

It would be mis­take to as­sume her ap­point­ment is due pri­mar­ily to her hus­band. Af­ter all, it was her faith that led to the con­ver­sion of Newt Gin­grich to the Ro­man Catholic Church. Mrs. Gin­grich has demon­strated her abil­ity to not only speak for her­self but also take an ac­tive role in the “new evan­ge­liza­tion” pro­claimed by Saint John Paul the Great. In ad­di­tion to be­ing an au­thor and pub­lic speaker, she has co-pro­duced sev­eral films about the Catholic Church — “Di­vine Mercy: The Can­on­iza­tion of John Paul II” and “Nine Days That Changed The World,” a film on John Paul and the fall of com­mu­nism in the Soviet Union.

Her job is not to rep­re­sent Amer­i­can Catholics to the Holy See, but to rep­re­sent the United States and the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent Trump. She will meet with Pope Francis as the ruler of the Vat­i­can City State and the Holy See, the univer­sal gov­ern­ment of the Catholic Church, to dis­cuss the new ad­min­is­tra­tion’s po­si­tion on po­lit­i­cal is­sues. She has not been nom­i­nated to con­vey the opin­ion of Amer­ica’s Catholic com­mu­nity, which is the do­main of the U.S. Catholic bish­ops.

Af­ter Mr. Trump’s suc­cess­ful visit to Pope Francis the door has been open to cre­ate a bet­ter re­la­tion­ship to the Vat­i­can than what was pre­saged by the in­ter­change over im­mi­gra­tion be­tween be­tween Mr. Trump and the Holy Fa­ther last year. Prior to their first meet­ing, Pope Francis in­di­cated he wanted to make a fresh start with Amer­ica’s new pres­i­dent, and af­ter the meet­ing, which in­cluded the topic of im­mi­gra­tion, Mr. Trump stated pub­licly to the Holy Fa­ther, “I will not for­get what you said.” As Vat­i­can am­bas­sador, Cal­lista Gin­grich will con­tinue to con­vey the good will of the pres­i­dent to leader of the world’s more than 1 bil­lion Catholics.

How­ever, the nom­i­na­tion of a U.S. am­bas­sador to the Holy See is about more than the qual­i­fi­ca­tions of Mrs. Gin­grich. It re­it­er­ates the mes­sage sent by Pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan in 1984 when he nom­i­nated the first am­bas­sador, Wil­liam A. Wil­son, es­tab­lish­ing full diplo­matic re­la­tions for the first time in 117 years. The United States was no longer go­ing to kow­tow to the pock­ets of an­tiCatholic sen­ti­ment in our na­tion.

As re­ported in The New York Times on Jan. 10, 1984, there was some fear of an anti-Catholic back­lash against the ap­point­ment. How­ever, as the as­sis­tant to the pres­i­dent for pub­lic li­ai­son, Faith Whit­tle­sey re­ported the re­sponse had been “pos­i­tive,” adding, “the rank-and-file Ro­man Catholics are pleased that this has taken place. Every­body knows that the Holy See is an in­ter­na­tional fo­cal point of diplo­matic con­tact. I think the level of op­po­si­tion will be muted.’” (Ms. Whit­tle­sey was a mem­ber of the Catholic Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee to the 2016 Trump-Pence cam­paign.)

To those who say Cal­lista Gin­grich does not have the “back­ground” to be­come Vat­i­can am­bas­sador, I would point out that the pre­vi­ous am­bas­sadors came from dif­fer­ent back­grounds. For ex­am­ple, Bill Wil­son was in the oil-tool busi­ness. Frank Shake­speare was the pres­i­dent of CBS. Ray Flynn was the mayor of Bos­ton. Lindy Boggs was a con­gress­woman from Louisiana. Mary Ann Glen­don was a Har­vard law pro­fes­sor. And Ken Hack­ett was the pres­i­dent of the Catholic Re­lief Ser­vices.

As for our am­bas­sadors to other coun­tries, po­lit­i­cal donors many of them, they’ve of­ten been lit­tle bet­ter than bundlers and bag­men. Mrs. Gin­grich is a lot bet­ter than that.

The present U.S. Em­bassy to the Vat­i­can states, “The United States and the Holy See en­joy a pos­i­tive re­la­tion­ship that serves to am­plify a global mes­sage of peace, hope, and jus­tice.” No doubt Cal­lista Gin­grich pos­sess­ing an ev­i­dent love for the church, years of po­lit­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence, knowl­edge of pub­lic pol­icy, and the poise of a vet­eran diplo­mat will only build on the strong re­la­tion­ship that has been built and main­tained with the Vat­i­can over the past 33 years.

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