Pope Francis blocking French ambassador’s appointment over his sexual orientation

The Vatican hasn’t had a French ambassador since early March, but Bruno Joubert’s apparent successor, Laurent Stefanini, has yet to be confirmed. Having sat on his Stefanini’s nomination since January 5th, when French parliament officially confirmed it, the Vatican’s silence has been interpreted as an effective pocket veto, indicating that his nomination has, for all intents and purposes, been rejected.

And the Vatican’s refusal to answer questions as to why the “exemplary candidate” is having their nomination held up is raising suspicions that the reason is because he’s gay.

Per The Guardian:

His nomination was put forward in January but the Vatican has not responded, usually an indication that the potential ambassador has been rejected. Reports in both the French and Italian press suggested the decision was clearly connected to Stéfanini being gay.

Additional reporting in the French press has indicated that the decision to block Stefanini’s nomination is coming directly from the Pope himself, overriding the nomination’s official blessing from the archbishop of Paris, Cardinal André Vingt-Trois.

For his part, Stefanini has all the makings of an ambassador. The 54 year-old Catholic is currently French Prime Minister Francois Hollande’s Chief of Protocol. A statement from the French government called him “one of our best diplomats.” He has held high-ranking posts in the French government for over a decade.

In other words, the only reason why the Vatican would find his nomination objectionable would be his sexual orientation, and their refusal to comment on his nomination is an indication that they know how damaging it will be if they come out and say so.

After all, Pope “Who Am I to Judge?” Francis is supposed to be making the Church more inclusive for the LGBT community, right? Rejecting a qualified ambassador for being gay would seem to be the opposite of rebranding on that front.

Apparently, when push comes to shove for Pope Francis when it comes to making the Church more inclusive, he’s all bark and no bite. Non-controversial ambassadorships would be an easy place to start, especially when the candidate in question is more than qualified for their post.

That sexual orientation is keeping Laurent Stefanini from his ambassadorship shows that the Catholic Church still has plenty of reforming to do before they can be considered as having moved into the 21st Century on basic questions pertaining to equality. It should make us all take Pope Francis’s next rhetorical olive branch with a full shaker of salt.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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46 Responses to “Pope Francis blocking French ambassador’s appointment over his sexual orientation”

  1. The_Fixer says:

    Yes, you’re correct on those points.

    I was speaking from a moral standpoint – the rank-and-file takes the basis of their brand of Christianity much more seriously than the Vatican. The Vatican’s in it for self-preservation and perpetuation of their little scams.

    They are morally inconsequential to me when they talk. Any supposed moral talk coming from them is to be ignored.

  2. Thom Allen says:

    He IS a Jesuit. No one needed to get to him, he’s been that way all along.

  3. Thom Allen says:

    Unfortunately, that leadership has access to billions of dollars that it can use however it pleases. It also has assets that it can convert to more billions as well as it’s own bank to handle the transactions. It has an incredible amount of secular and religious power. Those things make it incredibly dangerous. It’s prelates are often just thugs. Latin-speaking and often more polite that the garden variety thug, but thugs nonetheless.

  4. Houndentenor says:

    So the Catholic church is a government and not a religion? Or just for some purposes and not for others? More nonsense. There’s no country there. there’s not even a city. It’s a few blocks in the middle of Rome that headquarters the RCC.

    As for monarchies, I’d abolish them but as I have no say in how the UK or other countries manage their affairs it doesn’t matter much what I think. I do think it’s absurd that the US has an ambassador to the Vatican. BTW, we did not send an ambassador to the “Holy See” until 1984, even though the US recognized the Vatican starting in 1933.

  5. Max Mills says:

    Literally the first definition on Miriam Webster

    “an area of land that is controlled by its own government”

    But countries arent like… “real”. Countries exist because humans say they do. I would argue that the world considering the Vatican a country is what makes it a country. Not only is it recognized as a coutnry, but it is a self-governed sovereign state that houses the governing body of the former Western Roman Empire. Kind of like Taiwan’s relationship to China, except that China still exists.

    It feels like your whole deal is that they are Catholic and you dont like Catholicism and you think that you are somehow embracing the truth of Catholicism by accepting the fact that the Vatican is a country, but you arent.

    It is worth noting that the UK system of governance revolves around the idea that the Monarch is given power by the Anglican deity and uses that power to give authority to the government (parliament, the PM, etc). So if your issue is that they are theocratic, you will have to throw out a great many other places that are obviously countries.

  6. Houndentenor says:

    I understand that much of the world caters to the Vatican’s insistence that it’s a separate country. That doesn’t make it true.

    I looked for definitions of “country” and couldn’t find one that made sense for the Vatican. Can you? I guess since a nation or country is a construct we can define it however we wish but I can’t think of any other country that is only the headquarters of a religion.

  7. Max Mills says:

    It is a sovereign state recognized as a country by the rest of the world. If that does not meet the definition of a country, how do you define country?

  8. Houndentenor says:

    No, I’m stating what everyone already knows: that the Vatican is not a country and pretending it is amounts to bullshit. It’s like if Microsoft or Facebook headquarters was treated as a country.

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  10. Max Mills says:

    You are literally arguing that a country is not a country

  11. DoverBill says:

    Why am I thinking of that Carly Fiorina Demon Sheep ad?

  12. Ninong says:

    Yes, the host country has to accept the credentials of the ambassador but that is usually negotiated in advance in secret so as to avoid embarrassment. When openly gay Wally Brewster was appointed U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, it took three or four months of negotiations before he was finally sent to Santo Domingo because of fierce resistance from local religious groups. He was quickly accepted by the government but that didn’t prevent the local Catholic Cardinal from calling him a fag, in Spanish, to a local group of reporters shortly after Wally and his husband Bob arrived. At that time the media reported that Brewster was the fifth openly gay ambassador appointed by President Obama. I know our ambassador to Vietnam is openly gay.

    This is obviously a feud between the Hollande government and the Vatican and that’s probably why they made sure to enlist the public endorsement of the Cardinal Archbishop of Paris for Laurent Stefanini’s appointment as the French Ambassador to the Holy See. If I were Hollande, I would leave the appointment on the table and refuse to withdraw it. Lets embarrass Pope Francis publicly. He’s not nearly as gay-tolerant as some people believe. The “Who am I to judge” Francis is not at all like the earlier Provincial Superior of the Jesuits in Argentina or the later Cardinal Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires. He was silent during the abuses of the military dictatorship, even when they kidnapped and tortured two of his Jesuit priests for supporting workers’ rights. That was back when he was Provincial Superior of the Jesuits. Back then he spoke out forcefully against the sin of homosexuality. None of this new-found attitude of openness and tolerance.

    There are some things that Francis has done that are progressive and indicate a more open acceptance of gays in the Catholic Church, much more open than under the previous two popes, but this delay in accepting the credentials of the French Ambassador shows that the Vatican doesn’t want to go so far as official recognition of an openly gay ambassador to the Holy See. You would think that this shouldn’t be problem now that Francis has rid himself of his most troublesome cardinals in the curia by appointment them to ridiculous posts like the Knights of Malta to get them out of the way.

    Leave the appointment on the table and embarrass the hell out of the Vatican!

  13. Houndentenor says:

    It’s still bullshit. It’s a building complex that houses corporate offices. It’s no more a country than Microsoft. The fact that the rest of the world caters to this nonsense doesn’t make it any less nonsense. And there’s no reason for countries to be wasting money sending full time ambassadors to a non-country. Not only is it not a country, it’s not even a city. You can keep repeating this bullshit all day long, but it doesn’t change anything. France should tell the head of the church of the kidfuckers to kiss off. And so should everyone else. It’s a criminal organization, not a country.

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  15. Max Mills says:

    My point is that it is actually a country and the Pope is actually a foreign head of state

  16. Houndentenor says:

    It’s still bullshit. Just because people recognize bullshit doesn’t make it not bullshit. Scientology is recognized by the IRS as a legitimate religion. That’s nonsense. Just because people pretend the emperor has on clothes doesn’t mean he’s not in fact stark naked.

  17. Max Mills says:

    Vatican City is a country, and the Pope is its head of state.

    “It is the smallest internationally recognized independent state in the world by both area and population.
    It is an ecclesiastical[3] or sacerdotal-monarchical[7] state ruled by the Bishop of Rome—the Pope.” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vatican_City

  18. Max Mills says:

    Come on, Franky, youre supposed to be the cool Pope

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  20. The_Fixer says:

    Well, it’s official:

    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

    So, for those of us who saw through the nice words he gave us a few months ago, we get the satisfaction of knowing that e were right – but no prize, of course.

  21. Houndentenor says:

    Like we do all the other myths and legends. In addition to Christian religious texts many texts from that era reference Greek and roman mythology. No one has ever asked me how I as an atheist manage playing characters from Nordic mythology. It’s just Christian privilege that in our culture everyone assumes it’s all about the Jesus people.

  22. Butch1 says:

    I was mainly focusing on the Catholic church, but many of them carry their own distinct baggage. A few of them have been about to grow, though I agree with you regarding the Catholic church.

    Because of this church, many a church musician has been able to make a living back in Bach’s and Handel’s time. Or if you were fortunate to become a court musician, you could write music or if you had a rich backer.

  23. DrDignity says:

    That’s really too bad. The Church is both homosexual & homophobic. Too bad Glinda the Good Witch from the Land of Oz doesn’t visit the Pope & sing, “Come out, come out wherever you are.”

  24. nicho says:

    However, Francis the Fraud has no problems with abuse enablers. He has just named a new bishop in Chile. Turns out it was a guy who covered up child rape — but Francis is standing by him.

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  26. nicho says:

    Pick up — and read — a copy of “Absolute Monarchs” by John Julius Nowrwich. The Roman papacy has been a corrupt, if not criminal, operation from Day 1. They’ve gotten a little better at PR, which Francis the Fraud is a master of.

  27. Bookbinder says:

    Yes. This has been dawning on a lot of us over the past year or so. Sad. The pope’s comment should be taken in the context of…”Love the sinner, hate the sin.”

  28. FLL says:

    The Pope must be paranoid about the French because of the Babylonian Captivity of the Church in Avignon, France during the 14th century–and doubly paranoid if the French ambassador is gay. How about a new Babylonian Captivity of the papacy in Babylon itself? You’ll object by saying the city of Bablyon no longer exists. Oh, but it does. Babylon, New York is located on Long Island only a short distance from Fire Island, which might be convenient for a lot of those guys in the Vatican.

  29. Don Chandler says:

    I’ve had very little to do with any church. But I like choral music and it often has a religious wording/lyric. Somehow, I’m able to ignore it. Maybe I just translate it into humanist terms and then enjoy the music. Handel often comes with outrageous stuff…how do musicians navigate it all? Probably the same way I do, through disbelief and humor.

    This pope had some anti-gay baggage. It seemed like he sloughed it off and was going to be a reforming leader…but it grew back. I doubt the catholic church can change before it crumbles.

  30. 2karmanot says:

    Does the Pope s**t in the Vatican?

  31. Butch1 says:

    I’ve never trusted the church to tell the truth in the first place.

  32. Houndentenor says:

    Maybe the French will just not have an ambassador to the Catholic Church. IT’S NOT A COUNTRY!!! We shouldn’t be sending one either. Do we have an ambassador to the Southern Baptist Convention? Of course not. this is bullshit.

  33. The_Fixer says:

    This is further proof that while the rank-and-file Catholic may be living in the modern day, the leadership isn’t.

    Which makes that leadership inconsequential in my world.

  34. nicho says:

    Well, he is a Jesuit. So I’ll go with Option 1.

  35. UncleBucky says:

    Um, take Pope Bergoglio with a 55 gallon drum of salt? Not even. The Pope’s salt is gone tasteless for me.

    Mark 9:50 (NIV)
    “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”

    Off the menu.

  36. UncleBucky says:

    Well, either he was never to be trusted or “THEY” got to him. “They” being creeps like Opus Dei and other Super-Katlicks.

  37. Indigo says:

    Oh, that pope!

  38. Don Chandler says:

    Very sad.

  39. Max_1 says:

    Gate keepers were the ire of Christ… Matt 23: all of it.

    In fact, Jesus called them vipers from hell. Just remember that the Vatican is built upon white washed tombs…

    27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

  40. psychobroad says:

    Meh, I never thought New Pope was some kind of ground-breaker. He has affirmed no ordination for women, no married priests, two things that might get me back. Ratzi set the bar so low, ANY concessions to the 21st century were viewed as progressive. Not so much…

  41. Butch1 says:

    It’s unfortunate this Pope is not a man of his words.

  42. BeccaM says:

    It’s a routine part of the song-and-dance for the host country to “receive the credentials” of a prospective ambassador. Refusing them has happened before, and it’s not always due to the candidate.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-2962588/Brazils-Rousseff-refuses-Indonesian-envoy-credentials.html

    That said, it’s not exactly common. And in the case of Vatican City (which should never have been recognized as a sovereign country anyway, but I digress…), their thing is they go the passive-aggressive route: They don’t explicitly refuse the credentials. They just activate their Yahweh-mode Super-Bureaucracy and fail to accept them. Basically like going to the DMV and having them deliberately keep ignoring your number.

  43. BeccaM says:

    What a surprise. Stefanini is apparently committing the unpardonable sin (in the Catholic Church) of being an uncloseted gay man whose sexual orientation and life are in no way illegal.

    Unlike all those brothers, priests, and bishops… Including those whose sexual behavior actually is illegal and immoral.

  44. Bill_Perdue says:

    When Jorge Bergoglio visits the US he should be arrested and turned over to the appropriate international courts for colluding with Argentine military dictatorship in their mass murder of unionists, socialists, workers and students. And he should be arrested to colluding with child rapists.

  45. Jon Green says:

    That’s a great question. The Vatican has vetoed ambassadors before:

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/apr/14/vatican-vetoes-obama-nominees-abortion

    But at first glance I can’t find examples of other countries doing so.

  46. AdmNaismith says:

    Does the target country generally have any say over who is an ambassador to them?

    Seems like that if the Vatican wants to consider themselves a country, they kind of have to accept whatever representatives are sent to them. They could passive-aggressively not deal with people they don’t like, of course. But veto power?

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