Ever since Pope Francis made his first appearance on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, the Vatican has basked in the glow of positive media as he touched hearts across the globe by embracing people with deformities, reached out to the mentally and physically disabled, kissed the feet of prisoners, and stated, "Who Am I to Judge?" when asked about gay people.
Francis made the covers of Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, Esquire, and Vanity Fair. He was also named 'Person of the Year' by both Time and the Advocate, America's foremost gay magazine. Francis became a symbol of the new Catholic Church, a church of compassion, humanity and inclusiveness.
Yet, for all this rhetoric, the Vatican has not confirmed France's ambassador to the Holy See, Laurent Stefanini. You see, Stefanini is gay. His nomination was put forward last January but the Vatican has not responded, usually an indication that the potential ambassador has been rejected. Reports in the press suggest the decision was clearly connected to Stefanini's sexual orientation. This isn't the first time the Vatican has rejected a gay ambassadorial candidate. In 2007, France nominated a gay man living in a civil partnership with his husband. The Vatican remained silent, and France had to nominate another person.
Apparently, when push comes to shove, Pope 'Who Am I to Judge' Francis is all bark and no bite. That sexual orientation is keeping Stefanini from his ambassadorship shows that the Catholic Church has plenty of reforming to do before they can be considered as having moved into the 21st Century on basic questions of equality.