Wednesday, April 15, 2015

That French Gay Diplomat Story May be Phony

Ambassador Laurent Stefanini is an unmarried adult male who does not have a mistress. This is currently illegal under French law.

LifeSite News has just reported that one of the biggest stories to come out of the Vatican this year may be at least partially false.

The standard narrative of the last few days is that Pope Francis recently "rejected" France's proposed ambassador to the Holy See--Laurent Stefanini--because he was "openly gay".

The nomination was portrayed as a French "provocation." Ludovine de La Rochère, the head of a French pro-traditional marriage group, was reported to have lobbied the Vatican to reject Stefanini. Even so, it was a surprise to some that the "who am I to judge?" pope in the end rejected him. The decision was predictably hailed by many traditionalists and conservatives, and criticized by liberals and LGBT groups.

According to LifeSite News, however, there is reason to doubt virtually every part of the story.

To begin with, there is no direct evidence that Mr. Stefanini is "gay". Contra some of the reports, he has never publicly identified himself as being gay, nor before the story broke had anyone else publicly identified him as such. And even the recent reports of his "gayness" lead back to no definite identified source, official or otherwise. What seems to be certain is that he is not "openly gay", and if he is indeed a "practicing" gay person, he has been pretty secretive about it.

We do know that Mr. Stefanini is a practicing Catholic--a rarity in contemporary France--who converted to the Faith as a middle-aged man and, as far as anyone can tell, served his country with distinction in the diplomatic corps, including doing a stint in the French embassy to the Holy See in 2001 to 2005.

Given that, whether he has ever had sexual thoughts about other men is about as relevant in this context as whether or not I have. It looks like he has been smeared. Whether he was the target or simply a collateral victim in some larger game, is still unclear.

To continue, Ludovine de La Rochère denies ever lobbying the Vatican on this. And indeed, while it is true that the extended wait has been unusual, the Vatican has still not officially said anything on the matter. There has been no official "rejection" by Pope Francis or anyone else.

Rather, a few claims by anonymous sources and "no comments" by official sources have been seen to be determinative.

LifeSite News speculates that the story might have been cooked up by LGBT activists to embarrass the Pope. But I'm not sure I get that. Why would they want the "who am I to judge?" Pope to be seen as less friendly to their interests? One might equally speculate that it was unscrupulous "conservatives" eager to put the Pope in a corner. Not that there is any evidence for that.

Clearly there's a lot we don't know. No doubt, more news will come out. Though it would be naive to think that we'll necessarily ever know everything.

If anyone else has any other information, I would be interested to hear it.

Meanwhile, Mr. Stefanini has been silent. Perhaps he is gay. Or a diplomat.

Or just a Catholic.


  1. I can't find an article where he talks about being gay, but it seems he's not the first gay ambassador from France the Vatican has rejected.

  2. Yes, I should have mentioned that. The LifeSite News article did. Whatever really happened, that past incident no doubt fueled the story.