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New French ambassador to Holy See presents credentials, ending diplomatic impasse

June 24, 2016

A new French ambassador to the Holy See, Philippe Zeller, has presented his diplomatic credentials to Pope Francis, ending a long impasse over the appointment of a French envoy.

In April, after a diplomatic stalemate that had lasted well over a year, the French government finally dropped an effort to persuade the Vatican to accept the appointment of Laurent Stefanini. The Vatican had declined to accept Stefanini as ambassador and, following standard diplomatic protocol, declined to give a public explanation. But reports from France suggested that the Vatican might have objected because Stefanini is homosexual-- although the French diplomat has not been identified as homosexual or acted as a spokesman for the homosexual cause. 

Pope Francis met privately with Stefanini last April: a very unusual move. Neither Vatican nor French officials would comment on the meeting. Finally, after months of silence, France named Stefanini to be the country's envoy to UNESCO, and Zeller was nominated and accepted as ambassador to the Holy See.

 
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