Vatican reportedly rejects gay French ambassador

Pope Francis (Reuters/Max Rossi)
The Catholic Church has been accused of blocking the appointment of a new French ambassador to the Vatican. Sources, including from inside the Holy See, say the diplomat may have been rejected because he is gay.

Usually it takes no longer than a month and a half to accept a new ambassador’s credentials.

Laurent Stefanini, who has been described as a “practicing Catholic,” was nominated as France’s ambassador to the Holy See by President Francois Hollande’s government on January 5. The outgoing ambassador, Bruno Jouvert, left the Vatican at the end of February, and the post has been vacant since March.

Stefanini, 55, currently serves as Hollande’s head of protocol. He is a well-known figure in Rome, having served as deputy to the ambassador at the French embassy in the Vatican from 2001 to 2005.

French media speculated that Stefanini’s apparent rejection was due to his sexual orientation.

Le Journal du Dimanche said: “Vatican doesn't want this bachelor, childless, with a reputation for his professionalism and modesty, because he is homosexual.”

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A Vatican insider reportedly told the newspaper that Stefanini's rejection was allegedly “a decision taken by the Pope himself.”

The controversy over Laurent Stefanini's approval could sour Pope Francis's image as a more tolerant and gay-friendly pointiff than his predecessors. In 2013, Pope Francis famously said: "If a person is gay and seeks God and has goodwill, who am I to judge?" He was responding to questions about whether there was a "gay lobby" in the Vatican.

There have been two occasions in the last decade when the Vatican has openly objected to ambassadors, citing their marital status as Catholics. In one case, a gay Frenchman was rejected because he was living in a civil union with another man, and in the other, an ambassador from Argentina was divorced and lived with a new partner.