France made history earlier this year when it nominated openly gay senior diplomat Laurent Stefanini to be its new ambassador to the Holy See. Typically, the Vatican confirms appointments within a matter of weeks. However, despite his being a practicing, single Catholic and having the support of the Archbishop of Paris, the papacy dragged its heels. As the months wore on, the political stalemate—French President François Hollande refused to back down—highlighted the confused stance of the Catholic Church, and Pope Francis in particular, on gay people. After nine months of inaction, a French official has confirmed that the state will no longer press the issue.
For years, Stefanini served as deputy chief of mission to the Vatican, which was a factor in France's insistence that he was best suited for the position. A few months ago, it was reported that the pope held a private conference with Stefanini, with some reporting that he personally told the Frenchman that he had no problem with his appointment, but that France's legalization of same-sex marriage was an issue.
Repeatedly, Hollande has said that his government will stand by their appointment, and that he is the only person that will be considered for the position. While it seems that he has accepted that the Vatican will not accept Stefanini, Libération reports that France will not offer a replacement ambassador, leaving the position vacant for the remainder of the president's term.
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