Pope Francis has held a private meeting with France’s nominee as Ambassador to the Holy See, the French government said on Wednesday but there was no change to the stand-off over his nomination, reports Reuters in the Religion News Service.
Paris nominated the government’s head of protocol, Laurent Stefanini, for the post on January 5 but has still not heard back from the Vatican — a delay that French and Italian media have said is due to his homosexuality.
“There was a meeting between the Pope and Mr Stefanini,” government spokesman, Stephane Le Foll, told a regular briefing, confirming a report by satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaine but dismissing the newspaper’s assertion that his candidacy had been finally rejected during the April 18 meeting.
“Nothing has changed: France has proposed a candidate and for the time being we are waiting for the Vatican’s reply after the usual discussions and review of his candidacy.”
Neither the nominee nor the French government has made an official statement on his sexuality, the Foreign Ministry saying only his private life should be respected.
The Vatican has declined to comment on the matter, saying that an appointment is confirmed when the name is published in the official bulletin of the Holy See. It is extremely rare for the Pope to get directly involved the naming of ambassadors.
Earlier this month, the French Catholic daily La Croix cited an unnamed source as saying the Vatican considered it a “provocation” that France’s Socialist government, which in 2013 legalised gay marriages, had proposed a gay man for the post.