• France's news in English

France stands by choice of gay Vatican envoy

The Local/AFP · 15 Apr 2015, 14:04

Published: 15 Apr 2015 13:48 GMT+02:00
Updated: 15 Apr 2015 14:04 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

"France has chosen its ambassador to the Vatican. This choice was (Laurent) Stefanini and that remains the French proposal," government spokesman Stephane Le Foll said.

Laurent Stefanini, a senior diplomat and French President François Hollande’s chief of protocol, was nominated for the role in early January.

Normally a new ambassador’s credentials are accepted within a month and a half. The Vatican does not usually explicitly refuse an envoy’s credentials, but a prolonged silence after a nomination is interpreted as a rejection.

The Vatican declined to comment when asked by The Local last Friday if Stefanini, who is openly gay, was being rejected and if this was due to his sexuality.

The French cabinet approved the appointment of Stefanini on January 5th but has not yet received a reply.

"A delay of three months like this is not normal," a well-informed source in Rome told AFP last week.

Stefanini was described by the foreign ministry as "one of our best diplomats".

A French presidential aide had previously said that the choice of the 55-year-old 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 the apparent rejection by the Vatican was because of Stefanini’s homosexuality.

France in 2007 nominated a gay ambassador to the Vatican but the Holy See never responded to the nomination.

Stéphane Lemessin, a French Catholic priest who blogs on faith matters, told The Local previously that he believed the apparent rejection of Stefanini was not solely on account of his being gay.

"Announcing his nomination to the press before presenting it to the Vatican was not the most diplomatic way of doing things," he said.

Pope Francis has taken a far less judgemental position on homosexuality than his predecessor Benedict XVI.

"If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?" he said in an interview shortly after he became pontiff two years ago.

He also said that gay people should not be marginalised but integrated into society.

But the change in tone does not necessarily signal a change in the doctrine of the Roman Catholic church.

Francis has criticized gay marriage and is opposed to adoption rights for gay couples, both of which became legal in France in 2013 amid widespread protests from the country's Catholic community. 

Story continues below…

In 2007, France proposed openly gay diplomat Jean-Loup Kuhn-Delforge to be its ambassador at the Vatican. Paris never received a reply, and it eventually put forward another nominee.

But unlike Kuhn-Delforge, Stefanini is single and is very discreet about his personal life. Italian daily Il Messagero described him as "a practising Catholic, very cultivated, of absolute discretion".

From 2001 to 2005, he served as the number two at the French embassy in the Vatican.

Italy's La Stampa daily's Vatican Insider blog said Stefanini's position on gay marriage - not his sexual orientation - may be the problem in getting the Vatican's green light.

Gay marriage has been legal in France since 2013, despite the Catholic Church's opposition.

The Local/AFP (news@thelocal.it)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
France to clear 'Jungle' migrant camp Monday
Migrants will be bussed from the camp to some 300 temporary accommodation centres around France. Photo: Denis Charlet/ AFP

The "Jungle" migrant camp on France's northern coast will be cleared of its residents on Monday before being demolished, authorities said Friday.

How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available