World News

France abandons bid to appoint gay ambassador to Vatican

French President Francois Hollande listens to Elysee Chief of Protocol Laurent Stefanini (L) during a meeting on Carbon Pricing on the opening day of the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, in this November 30, 2015 file photo. REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Francois Hollande on Wednesday appointed to a different post a diplomat he had originally nominated as ambassador to the Holy See, who media said had been rejected by the Vatican because he was gay.

France proposed Laurent Stefanini, the president’s head of protocol, for the Vatican position in January last year. The Vatican did not confirm the posting for months, a delay French and Italian media attributed to his homosexuality.

On Wednesday, France named Stefanini ambassador to UNESCO, the Paris-based cultural agency of the United Nations, the minutes of the cabinet’s weekly meeting showed.

Last year, the French Catholic newspaper La Croix cited an unnamed source as saying the Vatican considered it a “provocation” that France’s Socialist government, which in 2013 legalized gay marriages, had proposed a gay man for the post.

Pope Francis has maintained Church teaching on homosexuality but struck a more sympathetic personal tone towards gay people. He has said he could not judge gay people of good will who were seeking God, and met members of a Catholic gay rights group in the Vatican.

But he has given no sign of easing rules against gay unions or changing the Church’s teaching that homosexual acts are sinful, even if homosexuality itself is not.

Reporting by Michel Rose; editing by John Irish, Larry King