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Report: Pope Judges Gay Ambassador Candidate Unacceptable

Report: Pope Judges Gay Ambassador Candidate Unacceptable

Pope-francis-and-laurent-stefanini-x400

The Vatican has yet to accept France's candidate for ambassador -- and sources report Pope Francis nixed him because he's gay.

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The Vatican has reportedly rejected an ambassadorial candidate from France because he is gay, with Pope Francis apparently making the decision himself.

While the pope is famous for his "Who am I to judge?" comment regarding gay priests, he has judged gay diplomat Laurent Stefanini unacceptable as France's representative at the Vatican, reports French weekly Le Journal du Dimanche, as translated by The New Civil Rights Movement.

"It was 'a decision by the pope himself,'" a Vatican source told Le Journal du Dimanche, according to the translation.

French President Francois Hollande chose Stefanini as ambassador to the Vatican in January to replace Bruno Jouvert, but the Vatican has yet to give the candidate formal diplomatic approval, The Washington Post reports. Any host nation is free to refuse an ambassadorial candidate and does not have to give a reason.

The archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, wrote a letter to Pope Francis in February asking him to accept Stefanini, but that "has not changed his decision," reads the translation of the Le Journal du Dimanche report. "Jean-Louis Tauran, the Camerlengo [chamberlain] of the Holy Church, also interceded on behalf of Stefanini. In vain. The pope told several cardinals he would not yield." Vatican spokesmen have declined official comment on the matter.

Jouvert left at the end of February, so the ambassadorial post is vacant, notes London's Independent. Stefanini is a practicing Catholic who worked at the Vatican embassy from 2001 to 2005, and he is still "the best possible candidate for the role," a French foreign ministry source told the paper.

This is not the first time the Vatican has blocked an ambassadorial candidate. In 2008, when Benedict XVI was pope, it refused to accept another gay French diplomat, Jean-Loup Kuhn-Delforge, according to the Independent. In 2012, also during Benedict's term, it rejected Bulgaria's Kiril Marichkov, a straight man who had written an acclaimed novel containing a gay sex scene. It has rejected some others because they are divorced or Protestant.

French media have denounced the apparent rejection of Stefanini. In addition to the Le Journal du Dimanche report, there was an article in the daily paper Liberation with the headline "The Pope Tarnishes His Image," the Post notes. Francis's tenure has been marked by some conciliatory comments about LGBT people -- along with other statements reaffirming church doctrine that homosexual acts are sinful and marriage is reserved for heterosexual couples.

Other countries have taken stands against gay ambassadors as well. In 1994, when President Bill Clinton planned to nominate gay philanthropist James Hormel as ambassador to Fiji, the government of that nation apparently objected, and Clinton did not go through with the nomination, Hormel writes in his memoir Fit to Serve. There was also opposition to Hormel's appointment from right-wing politicians in the U.S., especially the rabidly antigay Sen. Jesse Helms. In 1997, Clinton nominated Hormel as ambassador to Luxembourg, which had no objection, but Senate conservatives would not allow a vote on Hormel's confirmation. Clinton finally put him in the Luxembourg post by going around Congress through a recess appointment in 1999, making Hormel the first openly gay U.S. ambassador.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.