Diplomacy can sometimes be more about what is left unsaid than said — and the current diplomatic row between France and the Vatican is a classic example.
Paris is insistent that its next ambassador to the Holy See be Laurent Stefanini, the current chief of protocol at the French Presidential Palace.
On paper, he is an ideal candidate. A polished diplomat who previously served at the United Nations and in a lower capacity at the French Embassy at the Vatican, Stefanini has reportedly even received the backing of Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, the cardinal primate of France.
Yet four months after he was named as the ambassador, the Vatican still has not accredited him for the post.
Increasingly, there is suspicion that the Vatican is opposed to Stefanini because he is openly gay.
What’s more, he took a high profile position in favor of same sex marriage laws when the issue was being debated in France in 2013.
The Vatican won’t say that Stefanini has been rejected, and the diplomat is believed to have had a private audience with Pope Francis last month.
But still the accreditation has not been forthcoming. If that amounts to a rejection, it is not the first time the Vatican has taken a vow of silence on such an issue.
In 2008, France proposed diplomat Jean Loup Kuhn-Delforge as its ambassador to the Holy See for living in a civil relationship with another man.