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France says Vatican has not issued response for proposed ambassador


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Despite media reports that Pope Francis refused the candidate France proposed as its next ambassador to the Holy See, the French government has yet to receive an official response from the Vatican, said a spokesperson for the French government.

“For the moment, we wait,” said Stephane Le Foll.

During a press briefing April 22 in Paris, Le Foll confirmed that Pope Francis met with the proposed candidate, Laurent Stefanini. However, Le Foll discounted reports claiming the pope did not approve the nomination.

“What is cited in the newspaper is not the official word of the Vatican,” he said, responding to a question from a journalist. “I do not give any credit to the information (about the refusal) you brought up.”

According to the French Catholic news agency I.Media, the pope and Stefanini had a 40-minute private meeting at the Domus Sanctae Marthae April 17, during which they spoke and prayed together.

Since then, however, some media outlets published reports that accuse the Vatican of refusing France’s nomination because Stefanini is homosexual. The press also cited Dr. Bernard Kouchner, a French politician and co-founder of Medecins Sans Frontieres, as reacting to the Vatican’s alleged refusal, describing it as “racism.”

Le Foll told journalists he would not comment on Kouchner’s remarks, adding that as the former French minister of foreign and European affairs, Kouchner “should know in any case, on all of these subjects, to always take many precautions before commenting on information.”

The French government is waiting – “after the normal discussions, the time that is necessary for the study of the candidacy” — for a response from the Vatican, Le Foll said.

International law grants all states, including the Vatican, the right to review all nominations and accept or reject an appointed ambassador. The review process is usually private and states are not obliged to give a reason for refusing a proposed candidate.

Stefanini, currently France’s chief of protocol, is Catholic and worked as the first councilor for the French embassy to the Holy See from 2001 to 2005.

The Vatican press office has declined to comment on Stefanini’s candidacy.


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Pope to address European Parliament Nov. 25


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis will address the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, Nov. 25.

The Parliament’s president, Martin Schultz, made the announcement Sept. 11, and the Vatican immediately confirmed it.

According to Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, Pope Francis will travel to Strasbourg and back to Rome the same day, and his brief trip should not be considered a pastoral visit to France.

In visiting the parliament, the pope will be accepting an invitation made by Schultz during a visit to the Vatican in October 2013.

“The decision to come to Strasbourg before visiting any individual EU member state as such gives a strong signal that the pope supports and encourages the pursuit of European integration and unity,” said a statement by German Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community. “We hope that the Holy Father will encourage European parliamentarians in their work and that he will indicate how the foundational values of the Union, inspired to a large degree by the Christian faith, may shape the Europe of tomorrow.”

Pope Francis will be the second pope to speak before the European Parliament.

When St. John Paul II addressed the body in October 1988, the event was disrupted by the Rev. Ian Paisley, leader of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, who unfurled a large orange banner branding the pope “Antichrist’” and shouted, “I renounce you. I renounce you and all your cults and creeds.”

Fellow parliamentarians threw papers at Rev. Paisley, and after a brief scuffle, he was forcibly ejected from the hall.


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Church leaders condemn attack at Jewish school in France


TOULOUSE, France — French church leaders condemned a March 19 attack outside a Jewish school in Toulouse, the latest in a series of attacks by a gunman on a motorbike.

“Our region was overcome once more by horror this morning,” said Archbishop Robert Le Gall of Toulouse. “To the families affected by this outrage, we express our sentiments of deep compassion and our prayer.”

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