Callista Gingrich confirmed as Vatican ambassador

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  • Gingrich, 51, a lifelong Catholic, is perhaps best-known as the wife of Newt Gingrich
  • The Trump administration is currently at odds with the Vatican on several key issues

Rome (CNN)Callista Gingrich will be the next US ambassador to the Vatican.

In a 70-23 vote, the US Senate confirmed her nomination Monday night. The move had been widely expected since President Donald Trump announced her nomination in May.
The Vatican declined to comment Tuesday.
    Gingrich, 51, a lifelong Catholic, is perhaps best-known as the third wife of former House speaker and Trump ally Newt Gingrich. She is credited with helping to convert her husband to Catholicism in 2009.
    Callista Gingrich worked for 19 years in Congress as a congressional aide in the House of Representatives and as chief clerk of the House agriculture committee.
    But it is her experience as one half of a DC power couple that she will most need to draw on while navigating the wide waters between the President and the Pope.
    Ambassador Gingrich will be representing a US administration, which is at odds with Pope Francis' Vatican on issues such as the environment, immigration and refugees.
    In her Senate confirmation hearing in July, Gingrich attempted to bridge that gap.
    "The Pope and the President share a great concern about our environment," she said. "If confirmed, I look forward to working with the Holy See as the United States pursues a balanced approach to climate policy."
    On other issues, such as abortion, freedom of religion and protection of persecuted Christians, the Vatican and the Trump administration are more closely aligned.
    When Trump met with Pope Francis in May, the Vatican said they shared a "joint commitment in favor of life and freedom of worship and conscience."
    Newt Gingrich, in an August interview with Politico, said he is ready to help his wife and has already participated in the US State Department's "spouse school" training for husbands and wives of diplomats abroad.
    "I'll be the person at the front door saying, 'Hi, I'm Newt Gingrich. The ambassador will be down shortly,'" he told Politico. "It's a great new role. Callista supported me in '12 when I ran for president; I get to support her now. And I get to join the spouse organization."
    Callista Gingrich is the third female ambassador to serve in the position since formal diplomatic relations were established between the Vatican and the United States in 1984.
    She will take up the post in Rome in early November, according to the US Vatican Embassy.