The Vatican has refused to formally welcome the Bulgarian ambassador because of a row over a book he wrote which includes a gay story line.
Kiril Maritchkov, 37, has been ‘banned’ from being ambassador to the Vatican for having written a novel set in Italy including a gay plot. One of the main characters in the book pays another man for sex.
Tension is growing between the Vatican and Bulgaria as negotiations continue on the issue.
Maritchkov is also a lawyer, he is married to an Italian woman, has studied in Italy and has two children. He speaks five languages (Bulgarian, Italian, Russian, English and Spanish) fluently and has also done a master’s degree.
So on paper he has the perfect profile for an ambassador at the Vatican, but the Bulgarian apostolic nuntius, Janusz Bolonek, has written to the Pope, saying that ‘Maritchkov is not welcome’.
Maritchkov’s book is a bestseller in Bulgaria, but has embarrassed the Catholic hierarchy.
It’s not the first time that there have been tensions between the Vatican and Bulgaria. After the shooting of former Pope John Paul II, in 1981, some Bulgarian enterpreneurs were investigated for their links with the Turkish citizen AlÃ¬ Agca, who attempted to kill the Pope.