Vatican blocks Bulgaria's papal envoy in row over gay sex in book

Holy See 'upset' at homosexuality and prostitution in lawyer's popular novel

Milan

The Vatican has been accused of rejecting Bulgaria's new choice of ambassador to the Holy See because he wrote a novel containing a gay sex scene.

Kiril Maritchkov, a 39-year-old lawyer who speaks five languages including Italian, and is married to an Italian woman, would appear to be an ideal choice for Sofia's representative at the Vatican.

However, Bulgarian newspapers and the Italian press are reporting that an explicit encounter between a young Eastern European male prostitute and a Roman in Mr Maritchkov's popular novel, 'Clandestination', has upset officials at the Holy See, despite the Catholic church's less-than-spotless record on sexual transgression.

It was reported yesterday that Archbishop Janusz Bolonek, the Pope's representative in Sofia, wrote to his superiors highlighting the offending part of the novel, which was a finalist for a book-of-the-year award in Bulgaria.

Reports in Sofia suggest the government there has dug its heels in and has refused to offer an alternative candidate for the role of ambassador.

The Vatican's chief spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told The Independent he could not comment on why Mr Maritchkov was persona non grata, but said it was not unusual for candidates to be rejected.

"Before someone becomes the new ambassador it's normal for two states to reach an agreement on the candidate," he said. "He has to be welcomed by the host state. In this case an agreement has not been reached. And I can't tell you why not. I cannot comment."

Two years ago it emerged that one of Pope Benedict's ceremonial ushers, as well as a member of the Vatican choir, were involved in a gay prostitution ring.

Information from wiretaps told how "two black Cuban lads", a former male model from Naples and a rugby player from Rome, were among those procured for Angelo Balducci, a member of the exclusive Papal Gentlemen fraternity.

La Repubblica newspaper said yesterday that the blocking of Mr Maritchkov's appointment had "clamorously frozen relations between the two countries" – almost to the extent of the diplomatic breakdown that occurred when Italian investigators touted a Bulgarian link in the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II in May 1981.

The stand-off between Sofia and the Holy See is the latest incident in a disastrous 12 months for the Vatican's diplomatic relations. The global child sex abuse scandal has seen relations between Dublin and the Vatican turn icy. Ties with China have also collapsed following Beijing's insistence on ordaining Bishops without papal permission.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican's powerful but unpopular number two, who is in charge of the tiny state's diplomatic service, has been blamed by many for the Holy See's deteriorating overseas relations.

Attempts to unseat him may also lie behind this year's "Vatileaks" scandal, which has seen a raft of embarrassing documents leaked to the press, including one that suggested Pope Benedict's new ambassador in Washington was exiled in the US because he had blown the whistle on financial corruption.

Clandestination: cause of the trouble

Clandestination, published in Italy by Cooper Editore, tells the story of Ivan, a young man fleeing the social and economic upheaval in one of Russia's satellite states following the break-up of the Soviet Union.

Arriving in Rome, the illegal immigrant he finds that things in the West aren't all they were cracked up to be, and finds hardship, petty crime and poverty. Ivan eventually prostitutes himself for €50 with an Italian (on page 218). The Vatican might not have read to the end which sees troubled young man enter a church, fall to his knees and pray for forgiveness.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss