Given the public disagreements between Pope Francis and US President-elect Donald Trump over issues ranging from the building of a wall on the Mexican border to climate change and migration, it is not surprising that the question of who will be Trump’s ambassador to the Holy See is causing intense interest.
The job description requires someone suitably heavyweight, who
understands the priorities of both Donald Trump and the Pope. A tall
order indeed, but who might Trump appoint?
Here is a list of possible
Newt Gingrich: A prominent Trump supporter who loves
spending time in Rome, he would be a high-profile nomination who is
close to the president.
Raised a Southern Baptist, Gingrich became a
Catholic in 2009 after witnessing Benedict XVI celebrate vespers in the
crypt chapel of the Washington basilica.
His wife, Callista is a
lifelong Catholic and a member of the basilica’s choir.
As a former
Speaker of the House of Representatives and 2012 presidential candidate,
Gingrich is the man to beat.
Chris Christie: The Governor of New Jersey has been
pushed out of Trump’s inner circle, reportedly because of his
involvement in the 2005 prosecution of Charles Kushner, father of Jared,
who is now the president elect’s son-in-law and senior adviser.
was sentenced to prison on 18 counts of tax evasion, witness tampering
and making illegal campaign donations, and Jared is suspected of
But Christie’s support of Trump after himself dropping
out of the Republican primaries means he could get a job that takes him
out of the country.
Christie was born into a Catholic family, sends his
children to Catholic schools but has diverted from the Church line on
contraception and homosexuality.
A charismatic figure who would make his
mark in Rome.
William E. Simon Jr: His friend Rudolph Giuliani, a
Trump ally and former New York mayor, has suggested him as a candidate
for the Holy See job.
Bill, as he is known, is a businessman and
politician who unsuccessfully tried to become the Governor of
A serious Catholic, he is a Knight of Malta who set up an
initiative to rejuvenate parish life in the United States.
Joseph Forgione: Passed over as secretary of housing
and development, the property developer reportedly has support to get
the Vatican posting.
His chances are bolstered by his friendship with
the Kushner family and the fact he raised money for Trump’s campaign.
Rome will not be a foreign place as his parents emigrated from Italy and
he holds dual citizenship.
Joe Ricketts: A billionaire Catholic who planned to
donate at least one million dollars to Trump’s election campaign.
75-year-old, who runs the world’s biggest online brokerages, would have
some common ground with the Jesuit Pope: his faith was transformed by an
He later donated money to a centre offering the
Spiritual Exercises of Jesuit founder St Ignatius.
Peggy Noonan: Former speech writer to Ronald Reagan
and Wall Street Journal columnist, the practising Catholic is a New
Yorker like Trump and was critical of his campaign to become president.
After his election victory, however, she has become more positive.
Noonan knows the Church well and describes her faith as the “core of her
Given the unpredictability of the new president it’s also worth
considering some wild cards. These might include: George Weigel, the
writer and biographer of St John Paul II,
Bill O’Reilly, the Fox News anchor, and possibly Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Governor of California and a Catholic.
Whatever happens, Trump looks set to make an appointment sooner
rather than later having ordered serving ambassadors to leave their
posts by 20 January, the date he takes the oath of office.