Vatican City / Laurent Stefanini
France appears to be standing firm in its posting of an openly gay man as its ambassador to the Vatican, despite the pope’s disapproval.
France appointed Laurent Stefanini, a highly respected senior diplomat and a practising catholic, as its representative to the church back in January.
Although the Vatican usually approves such appointments in six week, Stefanini has still not been accepted.
The French government confirmed it’s been in negotiations with the Vatican on the issue but does not appear willing to reverse its decision.
Spokesperson Stephane Le Foll told BBC News on Wednesday that, “France has chosen its ambassador to the Vatican. This choice was Stefanini and that remains the French proposal.”
Church officials do not usually openly reject an ambassador or make statements on these matters but the lack of consent is traditionally seen as a sign of the Vatican’s disapproval.
The French and Italian media have reported that Pope Francis himself was behind the decision to reject the openly gay Stefani from taking the post because of his sexuality.
The awkward public controversy is likely to embarrass the pontiff, who has worked to cultivate a more accepting image towards gays and lesbians than his predecessors. In reality he has done little to change the Church’s homophobic policies.
In 2007, the Vatican blocked the ambassadorship of gay French diplomat Jean-Loup Kuhn-Delforge, leading France to put forward another candidate.