Gingrich formally begins service as U.S. ambassador to Holy See

IMAGE: CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Callista L. Gingrich presented her
letters of credential to Pope Francis, formally assuming her duties as U.S.
ambassador to the Holy See.

Gingrich met privately with the pope Dec. 22 after
introducing her husband, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and members of her

Neither the Vatican nor the U.S. embassy provided details
about their private discussion.

In a statement, the embassy said, “Ambassador Gingrich
looks forward to working with the Holy See to defend human rights, advance
religious freedom, combat human trafficking and to seek peaceful solutions to
crises around the world.”

But in the weeks before her papal audience, Pope Francis and
U.S. President Donald Trump had very public disagreements on other issues. Pope
Francis had asked Trump to respect the “status quo” of Jerusalem by
not recognizing it as the capital of Israel until the city’s status was
determined by a peace process.

Also, the Vatican expressed disappointment that the Trump
administration pulled out of the U.N. process for drafting global compacts on
migration and on refugees and that the administration withdrew U.S. support for
the Paris Accord on reducing climate change.

Meeting Pope Francis, Gingrich gave him a collection of
sacred music recorded by the choir she was a longtime member of at the Basilica
of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, the
embassy said. She also gave him a donation for the charity of his choice.

After meeting the pope and Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican
secretary of state, the new ambassador was accompanied to St. Peter’s Basilica
by Msgr. Francis Kelly, a priest of the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts,
and a canon of St. Peter’s Basilica.

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