Vatican rejects Bulgarian envoy over gay prose
THE HOLY See has rejected the man nominated as next Bulgarian ambassador to the Vatican because of a steamy gay scene in a best-selling novel recently written by him, it is alleged in the Rome newspaper La Repubblica.
On paper, Kiril Maritchkov (39) looks the perfect choice.
He is married to an Italian, he is the father of two children and a graduate in law and political sciences.
He not only speaks five languages but he is also an expert in post-Berlin Wall eastern Europe.
The problem is that Mr Maritchkov is also a novelist.
In his book, Clandestination, he tells the story of Ivan, a young east-European graduate in architecture, who comes to Italy, enticed by false work promises.
In a manner that accurately reflects the experience of many clandestini (clandestine immigrants, hence the book’s title), it all falls apart for Ivan in Italy.
At one point, he is so short of money that he prostitutes himself for €50 to a man he encounters casually at Valle Giulia, central Rome.
When the papal nuncio in Bulgaria, Janusz Bolonek, sent a file back to headquarters, he drew attention to this particular scene in the novel, which was first published in 2010 and which also won a nomination for the Bulgarian Book of the Year.
That particular piece of literary verve, it seems, has blocked the nomination with the Holy See rejecting Mr Maritchkov, while Bulgaria, thus far, has stuck by its man.
Asked to comment on the matter yesterday, senior Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi would only confirm that, so far, the two parties concerned had not reached an agreement on the appointment.
Fr Lombardi refused to speculate on the reasons for the three-month long diplomatic stalemate.
Incidents of this kind are not exactly new where Vatican diplomacy is concerned.
In 2008, France and the Holy See went through at least three candidates before finally agreeing to the appointment of Stanislas de Laboulaye.
The first choice was divorced, the second Protestant and the third was living in a long-term gay relationship.
In the same year, Argentina reportedly withdrew its nomination of former minister for justice Alberto Iribarne as ambassador to the Holy See.
On that occasion, the Vatican had objected to the fact that Mr Iribarne had been divorced and then remarried.