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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