Blog Post

Newt Gingrich Among 150,000 Converts to Catholicism this Year

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich converted to Catholicism last week, making him one of  nearly 150,000 people who will enter the Catholic Church this year. Mr. Gingrich, who was a Baptist during his graduate school days, is currently married to a Catholic, Callista Bisek. According to an aid, he has kept silent on his conversion and said he would not comment on it for now, but may do so at some time in the future. He recently posted a comment about the Notre Dame controversy on Twitter, calling it “sad” to see the president invited when his policies go against Catholic values. Statistics provided by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) show that nearly 150,000 people will enter the Catholic Church this year. This number includes both the catechumens, who will receive the Sacraments of Christian Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and the Holy Eucharist) and Christians who will enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. The majority of them will do so during the Easter Vigil celebrated on April 11 in parishes throughout the country. In several cases, the numbers show growth and vitality in the Catholic Church in areas in which it had previously been a minority. For example, the Archdiocese of Atlanta estimates that 513 catechumens and 2,195 candidates will join the ranks of the Archdiocese in 2009. "The Archdiocese of Atlanta is in a part of the country with a large non-Catholic population, and has been blessed with an authentic dynamism during recent years, which is perhaps best expressed in our annual Eucharistic Congress, which draws some 30,000 participants. One of the many blessings that we have received from the Lord is the large number of individuals entering the Church,” said Fr. Theodore Book, director of the Office of Divine Worship for the Atlanta Archdiocese. On the opposite side of the country the Archdiocese of Seattle will welcome 736 catechumens and 506 candidates for a total of 1,242 new members; and the Diocese of San Diego will baptize 305 new members and welcome 920 other baptized Christians adding a total of 1,225 to its ranks. Cincinnati will welcome a total of 1,130 new members. The Diocese of Birmingham, in a mainly rural area, will welcome a total of 445. Heidi Sierras, of California, will be representing the people of North America at the Easter Vigil in St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, and will be baptized by Pope Benedict XVI. These numbers are up from previous years. For instance, the 2008 Official Catholic Directory listed 136,778 people who were baptized and/or came into full communion with the Church in 2007. © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly/Women of Grace.