Jeremy Beer has many good points to make about Newt Gingrich’s conversion to the Roman Catholic Church. Among them is the following, that has surprising resonance with a two-kingdoms theology (why wouldn’t it? All Western Christians of merit are deep-down Augustinian):
It is unwarranted in the first place to think that serious, practicing Catholics will automatically agree on matters of social, economic, and political philosophy and policy. To state the thesis in a more moderate form, it is unwarranted to believe that they would agree if they were all pious enough or smart enough or understood the faith enough. Thatâ€™s not how it works. The church doesnâ€™t declaim authoritatively on anything that isnâ€™t a matter of faith or morals because it canâ€™t. Outside the quite small realm of faith and morals, thereâ€™s ample room for disagreement and debate even among Catholics of good will and well-formed consciences. (I am not claiming to be a Catholic of good will, and certainly not one with a well-formed conscience; Iâ€™m just laying out the theory here, as well as I understand it.)
But let me come to the interesting and in some ways opposite point. Gingrich is the latest in a steadily lengthening string of high-profile converts to Rome among political conservatives and neoconservatives. In the last few years, that list includes Sam Brownback and Robert Novak and Robert Bork and Larry Kudlow and a number of others.
Now, reflect, and let me know if Iâ€™m wrong. Did any of these men (or any other high-profile politician/journalist/muckety-muck convert not listed here) change his public opinions about any idea, policy, or other matter of public significance after his conversion?