Friday, April 10, 2015

The Pope's (Apparent) Decision to Freeze Out the Gay French Ambassadorial Appointment: A Brief Update

For those interested in the story of the Vatican's foot-dragging re: approving a French ambassador to the Holy See, about which I wrote yesterday:

The Vatican has been dragging its feet on the approval of France's ambassador to the Holy See, raising suspicions that it has effectively rejected the nomination of Laurent Stéfanini because he is gay. 
The Vatican declined to comment on speculation about the delay. 

As she adds,

The controversy could tarnish Pope Francis's image as being more tolerant than his predecessors over gay rights. When asked by a reporter in 2013 about the existence of a "gay lobby" within the Vatican, he responded: "Who am I to judge?". His words have been interpreted as a sign of some acceptance of gay people in a church that regards homosexual acts as a sin.

In the Journal du Dimanche report by Marie-Christine Tabet to which I pointed you yesterday, it's explicitly noted that people to whom she's spoken inside the Vatican confirm that the refusal to move forward to approve this nomination comes directly from Pope Francis, and that he has told a number of cardinals that he will not relent. As Tabet's report and others are pointing out, the man whose ambassadorial appointment is apparently being blocked, Laurent Stéfanini, is a lifelong practicing Catholic who is neither married nor in a civil union, and has years of valuable experience as a diplomat, with inside knowledge of how the Vatican works — a perfect c.v. for this job, as Tabet suggests.

He has also been supported for this position by the conservative archbishop of Paris, Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, and by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church. The sticking point regarding Stéfanini appears to be in a nutshell: he's gay.

For La Croix, Sébastien Maillard and Nicolas Senèze report that the Vatican is employing a frosty silence to freeze out French president François Hollande's nomination. Maillard and Senèze also indicate (as does Tabet in JDD) that unnamed Vatican sources are maintaining that the appointment of  a gay ambassador is perceived within the Vatican as a "provocation," and that, if approved, the appointement will then be used for political reasons by the "gay lobby." 

(My footnote here: gays are not us, when it comes to Catholic pastoral leaders and those who cheerlead for them. Gays are someone else. Gays are the enemy. Gays are those to be excluded, demeaned, preached at, shat and spat upon, burdened like scapegoats with the sins of everyone else so that the rest of us can vaunt ourselves on our sinlessness.

Gays are not who we are. In the Vatican. Or in the Catholic church as a whole. End of footnote.)

Tabet states that the leader of the anti-marriage equality movement in France, Ludovine de la Rochère, has been working behind the scenes hot and heavy with the papal nuncio to France to block this appointment and to embarrass Hollande and his Socialist government. According to Maillard and Senèze, however, la Rochère denies any such involvement.

Thomas Vampouille's report for Metro News also notes la Rochère's denial that she is involved in blocking Stéfanini's appointment. Vampouille notes, too, that various sources suggest the refusal to approve of the appointment comes directly from Francis, and that this action on his part is sending a negative signal to the gay community, which had welcomed what appeared to be an opening to LGBT human beings on the part of the Catholic hierarchy in this pope.

And so it goes. I am not big on insider gossip, on Vatican whispering, on much of anything that transpires in the dark corridors of the palaces of the rich and famous. I don't really cotton to the kind of small, self-important people  — the journalists, the bloggers, the professional insiders — who lurk inside such corridors, hoping to be given a few crumbs of whispers that they can pass on to the rest of us.

Life occurs elsewhere, real life, that is. Give me a breeze blowing in my face, a stream flowing at my feet, green grass and wildflowers springing forth, a crust of bread broken and shared with real people, rather than the dark corridors of the emperors' palaces any day. 

But since I told you about this story yesterday, I thought I'd give you these updates today, with a statement of thanks to my Facebook friend Jean-François Garneau, who shared with me the La Croix and Metro News articles linked above.

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