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Trump Nominates Callista Gingrich Ambassador To Vatican

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Trump Nominates Callista Gingrich Ambassador To Vatican

(CNS) — As he prepared to meet Pope Francis for the first time, President
Donald Trump formally nominated Callista Gingrich, wife of former House Speaker
Newt Gingrich, to be the new U.S. ambassador to the Holy See.

The White House announced the nomination late May 19 as Trump was beginning his
first overseas trip, a trip that would include a meeting with Pope Francis May
24 at the Vatican.

The nomination of Gingrich, 51, a former congressional aide, had been rumored for
months. If confirmed by the Senate, she would succeed Ambassador Ken Hackett,
who retired in January. She would be the third woman to serve as U.S.
ambassador to the Holy See after Lindy Boggs, who held the post in 1997-2001,
and Mary Ann Glendon, who served in 2008-2009.

Gingrich is president of Gingrich Productions, which produces documentaries as well as
other materials related to her husband, Republican Newt Gingrich, who served
from 1995 until 1999 as the 50th Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

In 2010, the company released the film “Nine Days That Changed the
World” about Pope John Paul II’s nine-day pilgrimage to Poland in 1979 and
how it played a part in the fall of communism in Europe. Callista Gingrich
graduated from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, in 1988, majoring in music, a
passion that has remained with her throughout life. She is a longtime member of
the choir at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
in Washington.

Some like John Schlageter, executive director of the Bethlehem University Foundation
in Washington, hailed the choice.

“It might make me biased, but I think that her years of singing in the choir at the
national shrine has given her a backstage pass to some of the most important
events in the life in the church in the United States, including two papal
visits,” said Schlageter, who is a friend of the couple. The Gingriches
are patrons of Bethlehem University, the first Catholic university in the Holy
Land founded by the Vatican and the De La Salle Christian Brothers, he said.

Schlageter said Callista Gingrich’s time producing the documentary about Pope John Paul helped her create professional relationships and friendships in the U.S. and
Rome that will serve her well should she be confirmed to the post.

“She also loves the church and the United States,” he told Catholic News Service
May 15. “I think she’s a wonderful choice.”

Others criticized the choice online because she admitted to having an affair for years
with Newt Gingrich while he was married to his second wife. After his 1999
divorce, the two married the following year and he became a Catholic in 2009,
saying Callista, a lifelong Catholic, was instrumental in making that choice.


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