Saturday, 11 April 2015


Pope Francis' reputation as liberal takes a knock over reports that he rejected the nomination of a new French ambassador to the Vatican on the grounds that he was a homosexual

Pope Francis at the Vatican, Rome, Italy
Pope Francis at the Vatican, Rome, Italy  Photo: ZUMA/REX Features
Pope Francis has reportedly barred the nomination of a close aide of President Francois Hollande as new French ambassador to the Vatican because he is gay.
The apparent rejection calls into question the pope's reputation as holding more liberal views on homosexuality.
Laurent Stefanini, 54, a senior diplomat and Mr Hollande's chief of protocol, was nominated in early January but the Vatican has maintained a stony silence over whether it accepts his credentials, officials in Paris said.
The usual time frame for their acceptance is a month and a half. After that, a prolonged silence after a nomination is normally interpreted as a rejection.
The Elysee said that the choice of Mr Stefanini to represent France at the Vatican resulted from "a wish by the president and a cabinet decision" and that the president regarded him as "one of our best diplomats."
French media widely reported that Mr Stefanini has been blackballed due to his homosexuality.
Le Journal du Dimanche quoted a Vatican insider as saying that the rejection was "a decision taken by the pope himself."
Liberation, the left-leaning daily, said that "the Vatican's homophobia seriously tarnishes Pope Francis' image as being (slightly) more open-minded that his predecessors on sexuality".
France in 2007 nominated a gay ambassador to the Vatican who had a partner recognised under French law but the Holy See never responded to the nomination, despite lengthy attempts to secure him the post.

France's President Francois Hollande (L) shakes hands with Laurent Stefanini (Bertrand Langlois/AFP/Getty Images)
Mr Stefanini is reportedly widely respected by many in the Catholic Church, following his previous stint as number two in the French embassy at the Vatican from 2001 to 2005. Very discreet about his private life, he is "highly thought of in Roman circles," 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 his nomination. La Croix newspaper said Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the former Vatican foreign minister who is currently president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, also supports the appointment.
Pope Francis has to date adopted a considerably softer line on homosexuality than his predecessor Benedict XVI.
"If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?" the pontiff said two years ago, adding that gay people should not be marginalised but integrated into society.
However, that did not stop him criticising the current French Socialist government passing a law in 2013 legalising gay marriage and adoption rights for gay couples, leading to mass protests from among the country's Catholics.
He also compared transsexuals to "nuclear weapons" in a book this year, saying both "do not recognise the order of creation".
Some at the Vatican reportedly saw this latest nomination as a "provocation".
Observers say the Pope cannot be seen to be adopting an overly gay-friendly approach that would shock the Catholic church's more conservative elements


  1. Speaking of gay, where's MMM & Sean Page these days? :/

    1. "Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact."

      [Impressions of Theophrastus Such, by Mary Ann Evans under nom de plume George Eliot]

  2. I have seen application forms for lay posts on the Church of England website which state that applicants must be practicing Christians to apply. I wonder if this rejected French Ambassador is Christian or even Catholic. Sexual orientation is something intrinsic to the person and should not affect anybodies right to apply for any post. Serious cock up popey

  3. At least he is being honest! What are you looking for? Homosexuality is not acceptable and all homosexual people should live celibate lives if they cannot honestly get married!

    1. Are you real? The Vatican would have been employing the MAN, not his homosexual lifestyle. For heaven's sake, it already KNOWINGLY employs gay people, including clerics. If I employ a gay man as an information technologist, it doesn't logically follow that I approve his homosexual lifestyle.

  4. The Pope was dead right! Appointing a "gay" ambassador was a pure stunt!

  5. On the other hand it could be well argued that the individual was considered the best person qualified for the job, and that considerations of sexual preferences were so totally irrelevant in the minds of the enlightened persons involved in the appointment that they had not even considered this being an issue.
    If that were the case then perhaps they could be considered naive at not being more aware of the Vatican's sensitivities. On the other hand some would say that even if they were aware of a possible medieval reaction they did right not to accommodate such reprehensible attitudes.
    As Einstein said, "If I were to remain silent I'd be guilty of complicity."