Monday, November 17, 2008

Int'l Hilarity: France's Tweaking of the Vatican

I thought Nicholas Sarkozy was going to be a conservative president of France. That's what a other folks thought, and not a few right-wingers were happy about it. Nevermind that he was elected with the votes of the racist knuckle-draggers who heretofore had backed Jean-Marie Le Pen, some folks took his election to be a harbinger of a rightward tilt. Cal Thomas hilariously asked sixteen months ago "After decades of socialist influence in France, could the French election be a precursor to a Margaret Thatcher-like comeback for conservatives?" Well, turns out that this "precursor" is pretty centrist in American terms, and has recently taken to joking around with Vladimir Putin at Dubya's expense.

But it wasn't until a recent article I read in a newsletter from Americans United that I realized what level hijinx the "semi-practicing Catholic" Sarkozy could conceive. His third try at nominating an ambassador from France to the Holy See (Vatican City) was Jean-Loup Kuhn-Delfroge, an openly gay man in a monogamous relationship (the hyphenated last name includes that of his partner). Frankly, reading Kuhn-Delforge's government brief, the guy is rather over-qualified to by a Vatican ambassador. He's high up in the foreign affairs office, with experience with the much more important portfolio of fellow EU member Bulgaria. Yeah, the Holy See does have some low-grade intelligence, but it's a city block, for goodness' sake -- not worrh a career diplomat. Note the moron we sent over to represent the US to the Vatican. Of course, in the Vatican's eyes, he is "militant" because he is openly gay.

Apparently M Kuhn-Delforge was not the first choice after the previous French ambassador died in December 2007. France had previously suggested well-known writer Denis Tillinac, who would have moved into the embassy with his current, and third wife. Very French, very unVatican, what with the whole twice-divorced and all. So he was turned down.

Tillinac was not even the first choice for the job, either. Writer and Socialist politician Max Gallo had been asked by Sarkozy to go for the job, but said "no".

Eventually, Stanislas Lefebvre accepted a severe demotion from ambassador from Russia, and has been accepted by the former member of the the Pope as unlikely to disturb the decorum of the Holy See. Remember -- this guy was key in Sarkozy's largely successful effort to restore peace in Georgia. Now he's cooling his heels in a glorified Latin Club.

So Sarkozy pursued a socialist, then offered the Vatican a would-be ambassador currently on his third wife, and when that didn't work out, a man who is in an open gay relationship. What a wacky guy.

PS: I would be derelict if I did not mention a similar nine-month impasse with Argentina's president Kristina Fernandez de Kirchner over her nomination of a divorcé as ambassador to the Vatican. Just another way the Holy See falls behind as it refuses to change with the world.

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