Callista Gingrich is now the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See. The U.S. Senate confirmed Ms. Gingrich’s nomination on Monday afternoon, though 23 senators voted against Ms. Gingrich’s confirmation, a departure from previous nominations that faced little opposition.
Following the vote, the U.S. embassy at the Vatican tweeted a congratulatory message:
During her confirmation hearing in July, Ms. Gingrich said that as ambassador she would focus on issues of shared concern between the United States and the Vatican, like combating human trafficking and condemning terrorism.
But she struggled to respond to questions about the encyclical “Laudato Si’,” one of the most important documents of Pope Francis’ four-year papacy about the need to protect creation. Instead, she said that, should she be confirmed, she would focus on advancing global religious liberty, combating terrorism and human trafficking and fighting diseases such as H.I.V./AIDS and Ebola.
Ms. Gingrich said that as ambassador she would focus on issues like human trafficking and terrorism.
During the president’s visit to Rome earlier this year, Vatican officials had lobbied, unsuccessfully, for Mr. Trump not to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accords.
A pair of Democratic senators who last month faced charges of anti-Catholic bias during a hearing for a judicial nominee split their votes on Monday.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, voted yes, but Senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois who is Catholic, voted against Ms. Gingrich’s nomination.
Ms. Gingrich will be the 10th U.S. ambassador the Holy See and the third woman to hold the position, which President Ronald Reagan first filled in 1984.
Ms. Gingrich is a lifelong Catholic and a member of the choir at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. She has co-produced documentaries about Pope John Paul II and she has written children’s books about government.
She met her husband, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, when she was a congressional aide in the 1990s. The pair began dating when Mr. Gingrich was still married to his previous wife. He has said that Callista is responsible for his conversion to the Catholic faith.
Ms. Gingrich has frequently expressed her admiration for Pope Francis on social media, and she was present at several events during his visit to the United States in 2015.