The Vatican is blocking the approval of Laurent Stéfanini as French Ambassador to the Holy See, and most suspect it is because he is gay, the Guardian reports:
Stéfanini, a 55-year-old practising Catholic, has been described in the Italian press as an exemplary candidate and a man of “exceptional culture”. He is a senior diplomat and chief of protocol in the French government of François Hollande.
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 the French and Italian press suggested the decision was clearly connected to Stéfanini being gay.
The endless stalling is seen as a sign that the candidate has been rejected.
The Washington Post adds:
The rumors about the meaning of the Vatican’s apparent non-response to the appointment seem to stem from a report in “Le Journal du Dimanche.”The report, citing an unnamed Vatican insider, alleges that a decision to essentially freeze the application came from the “pope himself.”
No matter what’s going on privately at the Vatican over the appointment, the decision to appoint an openly-gay ambassador to the Vatican (even one as experienced in Paris-Vatican diplomacy as Stéfanini) was interpreted by some Vatican watchers as both a provocation and a challenge to the Vatican by the French government.
The Vatican has yet to comment.