- Published on Wednesday, 08 August 2012 10:05
- Written by Josephine McKenna
The Vatican is locked in a diplomatic standoff with Bulgaria after it rejected the country's proposed ambassador apparently because he wrote a novel featuring gay sex and prostitution.
Kiril Marichkov, a 39-year-old lawyer with two degrees, is the grandson and namesake of the man appointed Bulgaria's first ambassador to the Vatican after the collapse of communism and re-establishment of relations in 1990.
He is married to an Italian and speaks five languages but his proposed appointment by Sofia to the Holy See is reported to have offended senior Vatican officials because of the gay sex depicted in his highly successful novel, Clandestination.
"The government has proposed Mr Marichkov but we have not received an official response," a Bulgarian government official said in Rome on Tuesday.
"We have been without an ambassador since our representative left several months ago."
Bulgaria's previous ambassador to the Holy See, Nikola Kaloudov, and his wife were received by Pope Benedict XVI when his term ended in March and Bulgaria has been unwilling to propose an alternative to Mr Marichkov.
Clandestination was nominated for a national book of the year award in Bulgaria and tells the story of illegal immigrants who flee to Rome from eastern Europe after the collapse of the Berlin Wall.
The main character Ivan falls on hard times and prostitutes himself earning 50 euros for sex with a man he picks up on a Rome street.
Archbishop Janusz Bolonek, Pope Benedict's representative in Sofia, reportedly sent a copy to his superiors highlighting the controversial pages of the book which has also been published in Italian.
Mr Marichkov also dedicated the book to his wife, children and God.
Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican's chief spokesman, declined to comment on Mr Marichkov but confirmed there was no ambassador.
"Before someone becomes ambassador there has to be agreement," he said. "He has to be a good bridge between the two countries and has to be welcome."