Vatican drags feet on accepting openly gay ambassador

The Vatican has reportedly delayed approving France’s ambassador to the Holy See, leading to speculation that this is because the nominee is openly gay.

Laurent Stefanini, a close aide of French President Francois Hollande, was nominated in early January.

According to The Telegraph in London, the usual time frame for official acceptance is a month and a half.

After that, a prolonged silence from the Vatican is normally interpreted as a rejection.

France’s previous ambassador to the Holy See stepped down a month ago.

French and Italian media widely reported that Mr Stefanini, a practising Catholic, has been blackballed due to his homosexuality.

According to a report in the Vatican Insider, Mr Stéfanini was invited to a meeting with the apostolic nuncio in Paris, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, on February 5.

There, he was informally asked to step aside and renounce his nomination because of his sexual orientation.

Some reports have stated that the decision not to accept the nomination was taken by Pope Francis himself.

Observers reportedly said the Pope cannot be seen to be adopting an overly gay-friendly approach as this would shock conservatives in the Church.

Mr Stefanini served as number two in the French embassy at the Vatican from 2001 to 2005.

He is highly regarded in Roman circles and is very discreet about his private life, said Antoine-Marie Izoard, a Vatican specialist with the I-Media press agency.

Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois of Paris reportedly interceded personally with the Pope to back Mr Stefanini’s nomination.

The president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, also reportedly supports the Stefanini appointment.

The Elysee Palace stated that the French president regards Mr Stefanini as one of the nation’s best diplomats.

In 2007, France nominated a gay man, who had a partner recognised under French law, as ambassador to the Vatican.

But the Holy See never responded to that nomination.


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