Why Gingrich Became Catholic

By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2009 5:20 PM CDT
In this May 21, 2009 file photo, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich speaks during a conference on health care reform in Columbia, S.C.   (AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain, File)
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(Newser) – Newt Gingrich shrugged off religious issues while in office, and was recently seen reading a novel before Mass—so why his sudden conversion to Catholicism? Some analysts say he converted this spring to position himself for the Republican nomination in 2012. Joining other high-profile conservatives on the road to Rome, he's already outpaced rivals by drawing in $8.1 million this year, Amy Sullivan writes in Time.

"Conservatives are especially receptive to the promise of there being some capital-T truth," says one Catholic observer. Gingrich seems to agree: "When you have 2,000 years of intellectual depth surrounding you, it's comforting." It doesn't hurt that his Catholic wife, Callista, dragged him to Mass after they married 9 years ago. Still, Gingrich isn't gung-ho: "I don't think of myself as intensely religious."