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Newt Gingrich, Redemption, and the Presidency Print E-mail
By Francis J. Beckwith   
Friday, 09 December 2011

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I have a confession to make. Newt Gingrich changed my life. It was 1984 and my friend, Martin Cothran, recommended that I read a book by a young Republican Congressman from Georgia, Newt Gingrich. Marty’s suggestion occurred in the middle of a discussion over coffee and pie in a diner in Santa Ana, California. We were both M.A. students in the Christian apologetics program of what was once called Simon Greenleaf University (which has since merged with Trinity International University). As was our routine, we would, every Friday night after our Koine Greek class, retire to a close-by coffee shop, where the conversation would inevitably turn to politics.

At the time, I was a self-described moderate:  liberal on issues of economic justice while conservative on moral issues such as abortion. I was, for the lack of a better term, an FDR Democrat, though I was becoming more convinced that my 1980 vote for Jimmy Carter was a colossal mistake. I grew to like Ronald Reagan, the man who defeated Carter, even though I was allergic to what seemed to me to be Reagan’s weakness on the welfare state. For I was, like most young liberals, convinced that free markets were detrimental to those in poverty.

After I explained to Marty why I was a moderate and I why could not fully embrace President Reagan’s conservatism, he told me about two books I should read. One was Wealth and Poverty by George Gilder. The other was by Gingrich, Window of Opportunity: Blueprint for the Future. Both books were equally instrumental in my becoming an economic conservative.

Like Gilder, Gingrich convincingly shows that, without the creation of wealth by entrepreneurs and investors willing to risk their capital, there would be far fewer jobs for those in poverty who need them most. In fact, the surest way to hurt the underclass is to put them in a place of permanent dependency on government programs while providing perverse incentives that increase the sorts of behaviors – e.g., out of wedlock births with diverse paternities – that help to perpetuate a culture of poverty and hopelessness.

It was clear to me that Gingrich’s defense of free markets was driven by his desire to extend our nation’s prosperity to those that the welfare state has neither the power nor the resources to lift out of their condition. 

My stereotype of the “heartless” conservative was shattered. Here was a writer showing compassion for his fellow citizens, while offering a remedy that I had never entertained. And he was making real arguments for his case.

Nearly twenty-eight years later, Gingrich is the front-runner for the Republican nomination for the presidency of the United States. Much, of course, has happened since he published that book in 1984, and over the years we have learned many things about Gingrich. His many achievements include his leadership role in the 1994 Republican take-over of Congress and his subsequent ascendancy to the office of Speaker of the House. His many foibles include a significant House ethics violation and personal moral failures that resulted in two broken marriages.

In 2009, Gingrich was received into the Catholic Church, the faith of his third wife, Callista Bisek. Because Catholic conversion requires the sacrament of confession, Gingrich has been absolved of his sins. This, of course, suggests to many, including me, that one cannot evaluate Gingrich’s candidacy and character without taking his conversion seriously. It is a mistake for Christians to emulate the world and treat a man’s conversion as if it were the metaphysical equivalent of a change in hobby.

On the other hand, Rod Dreher raises an important point in suggesting that Christian conservatives take care in their choice of standard-bearer. Relying on insights by New York Times writer Ross Douthat, Dreher argues that Christian conservatives, in the toxic atmosphere of the culture wars, cannot afford to have as a public face a figure who for most of his adult life has shunned the virtues and ways of life that Christian conservatives want to advance in the public square.

This is not to diminish or call into question Gingrich’s conversion. Quite the opposite. For, as the Catholic Catechism teaches, absolution of sins does not eradicate all the effects and consequences of those sins on the shaping of one’s character. This requires ongoing conversion, including detaching oneself from those things that may provide an occasion for sin.

It seems to me that a man whose sins arose as a consequence of the pursuit of political power and the unwise use of it after he became Speaker of the House should not be seeking the most powerful office in the world.

Newt Gingrich, to be sure, changed my life, and I am grateful for that. But it is far more important that Gingrich’s new life change his soul, and for this reason, I will not support him in the Republican primary.




Francis J. Beckwith is Professor of Philosophy and Church-Studies at Baylor University, where he is also a Resident Scholar in the Institute for Studies of Religion. His most recent book is Politics for Christians: Statecraft as Soulcraft (InterVarsity Press, 2010)

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Comments (52)Add Comment
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written by Dave, December 09, 2011
I admit I find Dr. Beckwith's article a bit perplexing. Our current serious choices for the GOP nomination are a deeply flawed but brilliant man who has converted and whose analysis that the welfare state has deepened the ills of the people the welfare state purports to support has withstood the test of time, on the one hand; and a man, on the other hand, whose theology leads him to aspire to be the god of his own universe, who is identified with a healthcare plan that when nationalized provoked the condemnation of the Church's Bishops, and who is very closely allied with the powerful institutions that have done so much harm in destroying precisely the small entrepreneur whose activities lift himself and those around him out of poverty.

I am not totally happy with Newt as a candidate; his notion that human life begins with the implantation of the fertilized ovum in the uterus is scientifically inaccurate and leaves open the door to the morning-after pill. Still, Newt has been saying the same things for the last quarter-century or more, while Mitt can be relied upon to say whatever is most expedient for Mitt, Inc. winning the next project. And do we really want as President a man who aspires to be the god of his very own universe?

Newt is mercurial; Mitt is expedient. Devotion to expedience has in my view created so many of the moral disasters and hazards that now threaten to destroy our country. Mercuriality has its own train of problems, but what we get with a Newt as candidate and President is a publicly known consistency in the general lines of his program and an approach and a commitment to benefitting not just the big players but everyone in our society.

He is a flawed man, to be sure; he is the least flawed of the serious contenders for the nomination and Presidency. He would school President Obama in any debate on any topic at any time and in any place, and unlike MItt he is not framing the President as an unseasoned technocrat who isn't ready for the challenges of the job: he is actually opposing the President on the basis of the President's world view. Newt offers a vision; after five years of Mitt's running for the Presidency, can anyone say what vision he offers beyond himself as CEO of America, Inc.?

I will have to believe that grace will allow and enable Newt, as it has all others, to overcome his flaws. Thomas a Becket, dandy and the King's companion in rakishness, became a martyr. We can hope that, should he win both nomination and election, Newt may be the first canonizable President. We should also hope and pray that he does win, for at the moment and for the rest of this campaign, Newt is the best hope we have.
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written by Cole, December 09, 2011
Ouch! First, can we say he changed your thinking? "Changed my life" is, I think, too strong. You weren't an unrepentant sinner or anything.

It's not clear he sinned as a consequence "of the pursuit" of political power - though, I'm willing to admit that it had something to do with it.

BUT it's too condescending to place yourself in the position of caretaker of Newt's soul, no?

Say his past sins disqualify him for a number of other reasons, perhaps the poor example it sets for the nation. But don't say you don't support him for his own good! It's tacky! I like your writing style, and while this is the first article I've read, I hope to read more.
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written by Amy, December 09, 2011
Professor Beckwith: does not God only use unflawed individuals? Were Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Solomon or Peter without serious sins? Can God remake a man's heart, can age and maturity mellow youthful indiscretion?

Would Obama better accomplish for our nation those values you hold dear? On some level, don't we speak/think/write to the level we aspire, and yet fall far short? Wouldn't it be better to have a man whose goals for the office were not only high but accessible to many?

While actively not supporting Gingrich, you have not pointed out who better deserves consideration or why they are less flawed.
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written by Ray Hunkins, December 09, 2011
A thought provoking column, Professor Beckwith, and three very good comments at this writing.I have been busy the last 17 years moving Newt's books back and forth on my library shelves, sometimes to places of prominence and sometimes hidden from view.For me, he is somewhat of an enigma. But then we must admit that describes every presidential candidate seen from afar by the American voter. Very few of us get to know the candidates as they announce their aspiration and campaign, simultaneously fending off attacks on character, philosophy, and past performance while seeking to control the perceptions of the electorate.

We are left with the difficult task of making judgments about others - their past, but more importantly what we can expect from them in the future. Sometimes we err. If I had a dollar for everyone I knew who regrets their vote in the last presidential election, I could start my own campaign! But we can only make our own prudential judgment based on the best information available. Your thoughtful column is a service to thoughtful people.

I don't live in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina or Florida and I'm in no hurry to climb on somebody's band wagon. For now, I have the luxury of being attentive without commitment. At some point, after prayer and reflection, I will support a candidate and it will probably be either Newt or Mitt. It is not surprising that both of them, like the rest of us, are flawed. I am resigned to supporting a flawed candidate. I will try and support a candidate who is a flawed conservative rather than a flawed progressive.We have had a good view of what a dedicated progressive brings to the table. I don't like what I see.

Because this is the most important election I have voted in since casting my first ballot for John F. Kennedy, I will take my time and have as much information as I can assemble before writing a check or planting a yard sign or casting a ballot, all of which I intend to do.

Pray for me as I will pray for you. May God help us.

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written by Louise, December 09, 2011
We will have a long wait if we wait for a candidate who walks on water, cures the sick, and raises the dead. How long do we have? Not long, I fear.

In the "For What Its Worth" department: Gingrich has corrected, restated, flip-flopped (horrid expression), nuanced, expediently changed, his position--call it what you will--and said that he (now?) believes that life begins at conception. Read it however you will.
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written by Francis J. Beckwith, December 09, 2011
Everyone, I didn't say I would not vote for Newt if he won the primary. Of course, I would, for some of the reasons you offer.
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written by barry allen, December 09, 2011
the problem with newt has been throughout his career he has said one thing but did another suggesting that barney frank and others be placed in jail for fannie mae while at the same time taking millions from them demanding that bill clinton be impeached for lying about an affair and he is having one of his own. furthermore on a broader level his policies will only benefit wealthy few and widen the gap between the top 1% and the middle class
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written by Ken Colston, December 09, 2011
I certainly don't presume to know the sincerity of Mr. Gingrich's conversion, either, and I agree that we should presume that it has indeed been sincere. And I agree that it may indeed be an occasion of sin for Newt to seek an even higher public office than the one that formerly got him into moral trouble. However, it also seems presumptive to believe that this by risking this danger a man is ipso facto not worthy of the Republican nomination. We don't know how long the conversion process has been at work in him, nor how far along it is, nor how he might use even greater power. Two great fictional descriptions of deep conversion, at work through time in men of power, make it possible for me to believe that Mr. Gingrich is not wrong to abdicate the position in the world that he has acquired when that position can be an occasion for God's allowing evil for a greater good to emerge: the Unnamed in Manzoni's I Promessi Sposi and Oscar Schindler in Schindler's list.
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written by Roberta, December 09, 2011
Newt had a consulting company, a ligitimate business that legitimately can accept payment for services rendered. He rendered the services, he accepted payment.

He did not perjure himself nor lie into a camera representing the Americans he swore to serve.

He did enough other things wrong to blame him for, so we don't need to blame him for things that only look bad.
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written by CB, December 09, 2011
I found Prof. Beckwith's reasoning to be weak and unconvincing. I'm not altogether happy with Gingrich. Having once been a big "fan" of his, I too was disgusted and thoroughly put off by his personal and professional bad behavior. However, to suggest a causal link between Gingrich's power and his subsequent sinfulness is really a stretch of logic. Correlation does not necessarily mean causality.

While conversion may be an ongoing process, it's also a distinct event in which one's heart is transformed. Even if we accept the specious proposition of causality, a return to a position of power is not like an alcoholic returning to his old bar and trying to limit himself to soda water. If Gingrich's conversion is genuine (and I believe it is.) the corrupting influence of power would be the least of my concerns.

Romney and Gingrich are both acceptable to me.

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written by Billy Purcell, December 09, 2011
Alternative Obama?? No way
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written by Robert Hutchinson, December 09, 2011
Like most people who enjoy frank and intelligent conversation, I, too, like Newt Gingrich. He is smart, knowledgeable, intelligent to a fault, every bit the history professor he once was.

I first saw him, more than 18 years ago, at a gathering of conservative activists in the Mayflower Hotel in Washington. He mesmerized the audience then just as he mesmerizes growing numbers of Republicans today.

Republicans are so grateful to have someone in their party who can string together more than two coherent sentences at a time — let alone someone who knows the specific details of policy and history — quite a few are falling all over themselves in support of Newt.

But Newt is a false messiah.

Like the greatest disaster to befall the Republican Party in a century, the faux cowboy George W. Bush, Newt is a “big government conservative.” He believes, like most of the Republican candidates with the exception of Ron Paul, in expanding government power, not limiting it. He wants to start new wars (e.g., Iran), not end the ones we’re already in.

Gingrich’s enthusiasm for expanding America’s “war on terror” — and his utter indifference to civil liberties — reflects the fact that he is, at bottom, a career politician who believes government is the solution, not the problem. He doesn’t fear an expansion of the police state because Newt and his friends are the police state. He doesn’t feel the TSA is an out-of-control federal bureaucracy that needs to be scraped because, like most government leaders and former government leaders, he never encounters the TSA. He flies on private jets and doesn’t have endure strip searches by TSA "officers."

Worst of all, Gingrich is the epitome of a career politician who cashes in after his “service” and makes literally millions as a lobbyist.

I like Newt. I eagerly watch him on TV. Here's entertaining and knowledgeable. But he should remain a TV pundit, not become president of the United States. His warmongering and lack of respect for constitutional restraint on government disqualify him utterly.

The only candidate who will at least try to change the corrupt status quo in Washington is Ron Paul.
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written by Louise, December 09, 2011
Since the title of this website is "The Catholic Thing", I wonder whether there is a specifically Catholic issue here that is not being voiced even if it is being recognized.

We all know the parable of the Prodigal Son, that, when the son returned, the father went out to meet him. But the father didn't say, "Go to your room, young man. I'll deal with you later." No, the son was not only received, but restored to full rank and status in the household with all the outward signs of that rank and status for all the world to see and respect. In addition, the father rebuked the elder brother for not being willing to recognize that rank and status. In fact, the elder brother was in more trouble with his father than was the prodigal.

But we don't know the end of that story, do we. We always thought that we did, that everything was hunky dory all the way to the end--aside from the elder brother, of course, maybe he came around, but maybe he didn't. But, what if the elder brother's suspicions were right? what if the father was naive? what if, when the son was again well clothed and well fed and feeling his oats, he said to his father, "I'm outa here. Thanks for the ring. It'll bring a few shekels down at the pawn shop."? What if?

Isn't this what we all fear about Speaker Gingrich? However, don't we, as Catholics, have to accept the evident effects of his conversion that we are able to see n his outward life and hope that our Lord sees the same effects in his inward life, in his heart?

Are we so afraid of being called naive, or, worse yet, of being proved naive in the end that we don't dare trust him or our Lord? I think that that is the Catholic issue here. As Catholics, we have to look at two Gingriches: Gingrich BC (before conversion) and Gingrich as he presents himself to us after conversion, and, like the rest of us, struggling to advance in the Faith--and, dare I say, in holiness?

I don't know the answer to these questions. I am simply trying to work them through in the light of the Faith. Where is Solomon when you need him?
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written by Louise, December 09, 2011
When I wrote that last comment about the Prodigal Son, the comments regarding his conversion had not yet been posted. What i wrote turns out to have been superfluous. Thank you all for those later remarks.
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written by Joseph, December 09, 2011
I like Louise's reflection about The Prodigal Son when she wrote "But we don't know the end of that story." Something that might help was the remark I heard from a priest scripture scholar that a better title for this parable would have been The Prodigal Father.
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written by Liz, December 09, 2011
This article is such a display of arrogance and "playing god". Who can talk about the state of Newt's soul?

Before I matured, I spent years jumping through universities' degree programs to get their stamps of approval. I ended up a Fulbright Scholar with two masters degrees, one a M. Div. from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA. FWIW, no person can walk another's journey. All we can do is observe and consider what we see and hear.

Newt is an extremely bright person who has risen to the top of the political ladder by authentically growing into his full capacity. The mistakes of his younger years were only stepping stones or growing edges from which he has learned and mellowed. I, too, lived through the turbulent 70s when the old ways of sex and marriage came apart. He survived that period and continued to embrace the challenges before him.

His leadership is exactly what this country needs right now. Too bad we have to "hold our noses" and wait another year. I am very worried about our future as a republic.
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written by Dean Davis, December 09, 2011
We are not electing a Pastor, but a President. For this, the criteria we use should be ethical and prudential. Is this a good man? Is this a wise man? Is this an experienced man? And yes, is this a man of faith who humbly looks to the Creator from whom all Americans receive their inalienable rights?

These are the questions we should be asking, along with this one: Can this man win the upcoming election, on which hangs the future of our republic?

If we can answer 'yes' to all these, we can have a reasonable assurance that the grace of God is operating in his life, and that he will be a good--possibly even a great--President.

I am much heartened by Matt Towery's recent articles, to the effect that since Newt's conversion, he is a noticeably different person: Calmer, kinder, more compassionate. Yes, lately he has stumbled; but perhaps he is a babe in Christ, needing our grace and longsuffering.

While there are other candidates who seem to me to run deeper in the things of God than Newt, he may well be the most electable. That counts with me. I would have few qualms about voting for him a primary.
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written by Deacon Jim Stagg, December 09, 2011
Dear Francis,

It is wise, as you have reported Rod Dreher's remarks, to support a candidate who gives "good" example to the electorate. In that case, Jimmy Carter would be your candidate, not Ronald Reagan. But, in considering who would do better for the country, there was an obvious choice, based on nothing more than Carter's abject failures and expansion of bureaucracy (Dept. of [useless] Energy).

So why would you base your decision about the future of the United States on a man's past, and, in Newt's case, confessed mistakes? How noble of you and Rod to judge him "unworthy" of your support.

I hope you and Rod find your "shining knight". I don't find one among all the candidates of both parties. What do you suggest we do now? Wait till 2016?

Isn't there some verse...."Judge not,....."
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written by Dave, December 09, 2011
Surprisingly, even to myself, I'm supporting Ron Paul. No, I'm not a libertarian, but I think Paul is the one candidate with integrity, and he's right on abortion, right on torture, right on avoiding ill-advised wars, right on balancing the budget, and right on state's rights. Considering the alternatives, that's more than good enough for me.
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written by Mandy P., December 09, 2011
I'll say up front that I plan on voting for Perry in the primary, so long as he's still in the race. However, I would like to point out that, while I understand your concern about Newt's personal flaws because I have the same concerns, it's folly to think that we must only put forward people who are pure as the driven snow to represent us.

I love that there are some good Christians that are out there in the public eye and proclaiming their faith in God. Tim Tebow comes to mind (wish he were Catholic!). I wish we had more folks who were good examples out there, but I also think having someone out there who has truly repented and converted to Christ is a very good thing. It would serve as a reminder that sinners- even big ones- can change and that everyone is called to turn to Christ. I don't pretend to know Newt's heart but if he has truly changed and converted for the better, I don't think we should be scared of getting behind him.

You can certainly disagree with him over policy matters. I do. But I just think that we should be careful in expecting the people who publicly represent us to be morally perfect.
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written by Louise, December 09, 2011
Understood in the whole context of Holy Scripture, of course the father was not naive. He didn't get to be a wealthy landowner by being naive. He was certainly prodigal in the sense of pouring out his love, mercy, and forgiveness lavishly, extravagantly, without measure.

However, I don't know where this leaves us, just groping around in the dark, I guess, praying for guidance and wisdom and discernment and hoping our country holds together long enough for somebody to do something right.





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written by Martial Artist, December 09, 2011
Unlike the Dave who posted the second comment (and I am unsure if the two Daves are actually one), I am a libertarian (please note the lower case "l") Catholic, and I am absolutely convinced that Gingrich is not a candidate for whom I could vote in good conscience—and that has nothing to do with his conversion to Catholicism.

Rather, I have watched him (albeit from afar) through his entire career in national politics, and I am convinced that one of the liberal commentators on one of the cable channels (not Fox) got it precisely right about a week or two ago. He asserted that Newt is a person who has five new ideas a week: two typically sound, and probably are, brilliant, two typically sound, and are, horrible, and the remaining one appears neither. His weakness is that he is incapable of determining which ideas fall in which category. He is the proverbial loose cannon, supporting ideas ranging from heavily socialist to moderately conservative.

We (human societies) are clearly on the verge of an economic catastrophe to rival that of the great depression and the vast majority of GOP candidates belong to that group of aspiring political leaders who have no idea of what is at stake, nor of what will be required to minimize the magnitude (because it may very well be too late to avert) the economic collapse that is about to impose itself on the world. Ron Paul clearly does understand the magnitude of the problem, and of the specific actions that must be taken in order both to make the readjustment as quick as is humanly possible, and to do the one thing that can prevent us from experiencing another similar collapse in the medium-range future. Even Paul Ryan's plan would have done little or nothing to avert the collapse we are facing. Certainly, none of the other candidates for the GOP nomination have a clue.

So, I will be joining the Dave who wrote the second comment above, and voting for Ron Paul, because I choose to vote FOR the candidate I believe will provide a chance for preserving the values in which I believe rather than for someone else as a vote against the candidate who appears intent on destroying those values.

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer
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written by Manfred, December 09, 2011
If I may add a small comment: the subject is academic as a trained, believing, practicing Catholic has only one choice in November-to vote against the most anti-Catholic president this Country has ever had. His expansion of abortion to post delivery (infanticide), his pressuring foreign countries to accept same-sex "marriage" or lose their U.S. funding, and his administration's pressure on ALL hospitals, schools, colleges and employers in general to offer zero co-pay contraceptive and "morning after" drugs positions him as a moral outlaw whom we are obligated to remove. That is the only reason I would ever vote.
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written by san, December 09, 2011
The reason this author writes re the "pride of Politics" which appeared to be the cause of Newt's downfall - is that Newt himself has stated in recent months by way of defending his outrageous martial behavior. He never did identify it as the cause of his arrogant behavior as Speaker of the House so that still is a question indeed. And anyone who believes that Newt has changed (excepting perhaps his serial marriage style) has got to be kidding. Those who know him know he is as arrogant, pompous, egotistical, and bombastic as ever. Perhaps he didn't feel the need to confess these things at his conversion. Newt sees nothing wrong him his political style of deception, and greed, etc. Try listening to his speeches where he pointedly (points his finger at his audience.). Remind you of anyone? Newt is the mirror image of "O". Both men are politically ambitious who will step over anyone, anything for power. Both a "professors" who believe that they are the "smartest men in the room". Both are glib talkers and slick operators who can at a moment's notice chide, charm, criticize, cajole, chatter, and change the story to benefit themselves. We already have such a POTUS. How's that working for us?? I am a Catholic R conservative who will never vote for Newt since it's just changing chairs on the Titanic. Newt is so enamored w/himself as is "O" that we would soon lose any credibility that is left for the US as a nation.
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written by yan, December 09, 2011
Isn't refusing to vote for him because his character is still a matter of unfinished business a bit hasty? About whose character can we say that God is now satisfied with the result? And speaking of character, as a baptized Christian, he is imprinted with a character that is permanent. That other supposed man of character in this race, Mr. Romney, is not so fortunate. Aren't we also permitted to take this fact into consideration in determining our vote?

Any man we put in the White House will have to grow while there. At least we may have some confidence in respect to Newt based upon both his past thinking and his present spiritual choices that there is a good foundation for growth and flourishing. That is more than we can say about most.
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written by Brad Miner, December 09, 2011
Yan: You may have missed the comment in which Prof. Beckwith indicates he will vote for Speaker Gingrich over President Obama. -ABM
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written by Antonio A. Badilla, December 10, 2011
As a Republican I read with interest what Dr.Francis J. Beckwith had to say and I kept reading hoping to find why I should not support Gingrich, and at the end of the article, I still did not know what is it that Gingrish has done that is so wrong I should not support him. Yes, he is a man with flaws like most of us, but Beckwith himself admits Gingrish has confessed his sins and has been forgiven. If he has been forgiven by God, why doesn't he deserve our forgiveness?
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written by D.A. Howard, December 10, 2011
Perhaps we should let pro-abortion Romney get the nomination? Gingrich has been consistently pro-life in his voting. Romney has been consistently pro-choice when he was in office. Which is the more reliable choice?

"Your courageous contribution, inspired always by the values of competence and honesty, will help to relaunch the national economy" (John Paul II, Meeting with Representatives of Political Life, Science, Culture Business).

Gingrich will be a pro-life voter and competent to run the Country. I will pray his Spiritual Life will be strong as well, but it comes second in determining the viability of a candidate.
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written by Liam Ronan, December 10, 2011
There is just something about Newt that makes me terribly uneasy. Call it intuition, but I perceive him to be self-absorbed and full of a barely contained and barely concealed rage. I rejoice that he has converted, much as I rejoiced at Tony Blair's apparent conversion, but the road from Damascus is a long one. While Newt will have my prayers, he will not have my vote. Rick Santorum, however, will have the former and the latter.
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written by Lee Gilbert, December 10, 2011
Forgiveness and trust are two different things, are they not? Acording to what moral calculus should we bestow the presidency on Gingrich as a token of our forgiveness?

"Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad." For that purpose either Gingrich or Obama will do very nicely, though Gingrich may have have a small edge.


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written by Chardin, December 10, 2011
There is a most interesting phenomenon with regard to opposition to NG from the most unlikely folks. It is almost as if (authentic) Catholics will be regarded as gullible and naive for giving credit where credit is due to a Conservative Catholic. Where are the on going blog entries and articles championing the cause of Rick Santorum? They write him off (by ignoring him at this point) and sneer at Newt. They're also in the good company of the New York Times. Just let us know where y'all stand, name recognition columnists and bloggers!
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written by CB, December 10, 2011
In the interest of being fully informed, some information about Ron Paul is in order.

Ron Paul is an important political figure. He's played a crucial role in keeping the fight for Constitutional government alive. However, he has some profoundly outrageous beliefs. His core supporters are 9/11 truthers. They believe George Bush was instrumental in the 9/11 attacks. Ron Paul has tried to play this down, even publically stating that Bush didn't orchestrate 9/11. But his speeches to his supporters are disturbing. Just 2 days ago, in a campaign speech to his supporters, Paul said this: 'Think of what happened after 9/11,' he said. 'The minute before there was any assessment there was glee in the administration because now we can invade Iraq, and so the war drums beat,'

Gleeful? Does anyone with an ounce of common sense believe the Bush administration was gleeful at such a time? And how would Ron Paul even know what was in the hearts of those in the Bush administration? And this is just the most recent example from a long history of such remarks.

Ron Paul is not as straight a talker as he would have people believe. He may not Bush was behind the 9/11 attacks but he's more than happy to perpetuate such ridiculous beliefs for his own personal gain.

I strongly urge everyone planning on voting for Ron Paul to reconsider. Ron Paul has many good qualities but there is a disturbing cult of personality surrounding him which he has not only tolerated, but encouraged. We already a President who was elected under false pretenses. Let us not make that mistake from the other direction.
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written by Micha Elyi, December 10, 2011
I remember when a young Congressman Gingrich challenged the status-quo complacency of Republicans led by Minority Leader Bob Michel.

I remember when the squish Republicans of that day sneered at Rep. Gingrich, calling him a bomb-thrower, reckless, and other such names. They pooh-poohed his goal of raising House Republicans to majority party status.

Yet Newton Gingrich succeeded.

Today, any politician who shows any ambition toward cutting back the State dramatically enough to save America from a rendezvous with the economic and social abyss will not be treated kindly by the Establishment Media and others comfortable with the status quo.

Again Gingrich is being labeled a bomb-thrower and reckless.
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written by Frank, December 11, 2011
So that there is no ambiguity, I will heartily vote for Newt in the primary and if nominated, I'll donate and work in his campaign. Given the author's values, I'm wondering if he would have knocked Saul of Tarsus off his horse or stayed with Peter after he had denied you three times? Abraham Lincoln is considered our greatest President but Honest Abe led a rather randy life as a young lawyer and politician in Illinois. And while many sing Lincoln's praises, there are still many in the South who still and will always hate him. Leadership is not easy and I know from experience. How I "led" as a very new and very green young military officer and how I exercised leadership of command 20 years later was very different. From the author's tint and tone of his writing, I wonder if he ever had to exercise the tough and demanding task of leading people and making decisions that affected he lives of the very people he might have led. Newt has both a command and sense of history and it's application to our present situation. i'll have more to say, but now, it's time to get to Mass.
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written by Drifter, December 11, 2011
What does the church do with Newt's divorces? Is he allowed to take Holy Communion? Does the fact that his divorces took place before his conversion make any difference? My understanding is that divorced Catholics are not allowed to received the Sacrament. It is strange to think of someone who has been admitted to the church who could not receive the Sacrament. (I'm not a Catholic, so I'm not sure how such things are handled. Could someone enlighten me?)
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written by Brad Miner, December 11, 2011
@Drifter: A divorced Catholic MAY receive Communion — as long as he or she is in a state of grace (that is, without any unconfessed mortal sins). And, although the Church does not accept divorce, it does allow annulments, of which Mr. Gingrich and the third Mrs. Gingrich have availed themselves. (To say annulment is a controversial matter in the Church is an understatement.) Divorced Catholics who don't receive annulments of previous marriages cannot remarry in the Church and receive automatic excommunication if they marry elsewhere. (If the first spouse has died, the divorced Catholic is no longer divorced but widowed and, therefore, free to remarry.)
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written by Frank, December 12, 2011
...now that I'm back from Mass.
In point of stark facts, St. Peter lied in denying Christ and St. Paul was a murderer. Yet these two men are the principle and crucial archetypes of the church. President Carter taught Sunday Bible Studies and professed his faith, but as President, and abysmal failure on both domestic and international arenas. I voted for him in 1976 and in 1980, had enough of his leadership and voted for a "B" movie actor on his second marriage. That "B" movie actor in concert with his Holiness Pope John Paull II and Lady Thatcher brought the Cold War to an end. I find it also a bit amusing that Presidents during their campaign, write a book; Newt has written many books on history. Is all of his copious writing a pretext for seeking the Presdency? I don't know. What I do know is that the man understands this country in the context of a superior knowledg of the past. I watched the debate a few nights ago. A couple of punches landed on Newt but to no effect. But he landed two "mandatory 8's" on Romney and the pundits across the board agree Newt walked away the winner. I'm under no illusion here, Newt is a politician. The question here posited by the author is whether Newt has matured sufficiently to embrace the leadership of a humble servant. While I have my questions as well, one thing I don't question, Newt will be much better than that egomaniacal narcissist we got in there now.
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written by David Gonzales, December 17, 2011
I may need to read Gingrich's "Window of Opportunity" to understand how Francis Beckwith became an economic conservative and an unbridled defender of free markets. Wasn't it deregulated free markets in the financial industry that caused so much pain in the real world? Wall Street was saved by a huge dose of socialism when the free markets didn't work as planned.

I understand that people should work for their money and that "handouts" can have a detrimental effect, but what if there are no jobs in the country, as is the situation now? The Republicans are so uncaring of the poor, and their policies have a terrible effect on the poor i.e. slashing programs designed to help the poor. I don't understand how any caring Catholic could be a Republican. St. Francis is one of my personal heroes, and he dedicated his life to helping the poor. I don't think St. Francis would have been a Republican.
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written by Larry Gates, December 17, 2011
Consider the facts: Lyndon Johnson's anti-poverty program dramatically decreased the number of people living in poverty. The Reagan/Gingrich approach has dramatically increased the number of people living in poverty. Trickle-down economics has been a colossal failure.

Gingrich has nothing but contempt for the poor.
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written by Michael, December 17, 2011
Please separate your judgements about Newt's political past with judgments about the salvation of his soul. Your just the type of pencil-pushing Catechism-quoting Catholic who would confuse the two.

Do learn a lesson from European politics (or maybe just critical thinking?) and vote or not vote for Newt based on an objective evaluation of his own voting record and what he promises to do in the future, not the quality of his "Catholic-ness". We can't accuse a man of using his conversion to climb up the political ladder, it's simply not fair. If he wants to run for Presidential office, he can make that free choice. I will vote or not vote for him based on a critical evaluation of the values, voting record and ambitions he takes on.

Lastly, while "conservative" Catholics seem to be trying to monopolize the United States government and trying to turn it into a "Catholic" nation, the Catholic Church, per se, doesn't take political stances and every Catholic has the right and privelege to apply the Catholic church's social teaching to their own voting choices as they best see fit.

We don't all "have" to vote Republican or Democrat. I'll simply support the best candidate.

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written by zerohedge.com, December 20, 2011
By their works you shall know them.

Ron Paul 2012
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written by Drifter, December 22, 2011
Many thanks, Brad. So Newt and Callista received annullments for their previous marriages? (In Newt's case, did he receive annullments for both of them?) If so, then he really wasn't married those other times. So what's the problem?

(I remain skeptical about such annullments! But, from a Catholic point of view, technically, doesn't this remove the problem about his past?)
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written by Kevin Hunt, January 18, 2012
Would someone please explain to me why Catholics should vote for Newt Gingrich who introduced legislation in 1997 (H.R. 41) which would have expanded the use of the death penalty to consensual crimes. Newt has stated that he admires the justice system of Singapore where they routinely execute their citizens for consensual crimes and torture their citizens for minor crimes. How many of my fellow Catholics now support the death penalty, even in non-murder cases? I am awaiting your reply...
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written by Sue, January 20, 2012
I's a cradle Catholic who works hard at devoutly practicing my faith in word and deed as modeled by the nuns, priests and devout Catholics I have been blessed to know throughout my life. I have known many decent Catholics who have tried to get through the annulment process for 1 marriage and many have been unsuccessful. To find out that this thrice-married man was granted 2 annulments makes a mockery of the Church authorities who granted them. Thank goodness my faith is based on scriptural teachings that have been passed down throughout the ages and not affected by the inept if not immoral actions of some of the human church leaders like the ones who have guided Newt is becoming a "catholic" - what a JOKE!
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written by Sue, January 20, 2012
Newt is the worst example of a Catholic - what a sham! It's unbelievable he could get 2 annulments! I know many Catholics who have been unsuccessful in getting 1! Makes me sick to think the Church is so influenced by power and how much $ it can get. Thank goodness my faith is based on pure Catholic teachings that have been passed down through generations and modeled to me by the priests, nuns and devout Catholics I have been blessed to know!
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written by Christina, January 20, 2012
I have no problem with newt being forgiven. But can someone tell me hostile man could get his two prior marriages annulled in order to become catholic? This seems awfully unbelievable that he could pull that off considering his infidelity. My parents have been down the annulment road..my mom is a lifelong catholic who still does not receive communion because her new husband is working on annulling his marriage...I want to know newt's secret.
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written by bettina bering lane, January 20, 2012
I have unsuccesfully tried to find out, how it was possible for Gingrich to be 'received' into the Catholic faith after having been married, presumably in the Christian faith, and divorced twice. When I (raised Lutheran) tried to convert to Catholisism 5 years ago, I was told in writing by the Bishop of my Diocese in Berlin, Germany, that, because of my divorce from my Catholic husband (we were married in a Lutheran Church by both a Catholic and a Lutheran priest in Germany), I could not convert. Could somebody please clarify? Thank you.
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written by Brad Miner, January 21, 2012
Ms. Lane: Newt's first wife died (marriage vows terminate at death); his second marriage (to Marianne) was officially annulled by the Catholic Church. Many Catholics have mixed feelings with regard to annulment, but it is an established part of Catholic canon law. -ABM
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written by Brendan Walsh, January 23, 2012
Interesting how my church has made annulment so convenient (especially for the rich and powerful [Gingrich, Joe Kennedy, etc].

Anything to protect the doctrine on divorce, eh? Compared to the bishops Newt's a regular Diogenes
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written by Brendan Walsh, January 23, 2012
PS - Brad,according to Newt's daughter, her Mother (wife #1) is still alive. Checkmate!
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written by Brad Minerl, January 23, 2012
Mr. Walsh:

Obviously, I was misinformed. Thanks for the correction.

-ABM
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written by BILL, March 05, 2012
Prior to his conversiion to Catholicism, Gingrich was divorced twice. Since the Roman Catholic Church forbids divorce, remarriage after a divorce and no sacraments if a divorced Catholic remarries...then how is it that Gingrich is a member in good standing with this church? Why did the church permit his marriage to Callista (his third and latest wife)? I really would like a thorough explanation of how this apparent exception to the church's normal prohibitions was permitted.

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