Francois Hollande has reportedly abandoned his bid to appoint one of his senior officials as Vatican ambassador after opposition from the Holy See because the candidate is gay.
The claim comes a week after the Vatican fired a senior priest who came out as homosexual.
The Elysée declined to comment but Libération newspaper quoted official sources as saying the French president had finally given up after months of trying to appoint Laurent Stefanini, a senior diplomat who is currently Mr Hollande's chief of protocol.
“It’s dead,” a source close to the affair told the daily.
Mr Stefanini, who also has the backing of Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, the archbishop of Paris, was nominated as France’s envoy in January but the Vatican did not accept his credentials.
|Pres.Hollande on left and Laurent Stefanini, currently the president’s chief of protocol, was rejected by the Vatican because he is gay.|
Normally a new ambassador’s credentials are accepted within a month and a half. The Vatican does not usually explicitly refuse an envoy’s credentials, but a prolonged official silence after a nomination is interpreted as a rejection.
Mr Stefanini is widely respected by many in the Catholic Church, following his previous stint as number two in the French embassy at the Vatican from 2001 to 2005.
Libération said the French government will likely not seek to put forward another candidate for the job at the Vatican before the next French presidential election in 2017.
Pope Francis has taken a far less judgmental position on homosexuality than his predecessor Benedict XVI.
But that did not stop him criticising the current French socialist government passing a law in 2013 legalising gay marriage and adoption rights for gay couples, leading to mass protests from among the country's Catholics.
The Vatican was embarrassed last weekend by a senior Vatican official’s decision to come out publicly as gay, just as 270 bishops from around the world gathered in Rome to attend a synod on family issues. The priest was sacked.
The row over the Vatican's attitude towards gay priests was stoked further by a claim this week that priests with “homosexual tendencies” are packed off to a religious retreat in order to be “cured”.
In its official doctrine, the Catholic Church insists that homosexuality is an “ ntrinsic disorder", with conservatives continuing to maintain that it is a conscious choice, rather than something that people are born as.
Rory Mulholland, Paris