German ex-minister tapped as Vatican envoy

BERLIN (AP) — Germany plans to make a former minister who quit the government over allegations that she plagiarized parts of her thesis its new ambassador to the Vatican.

Annette Schavan, a reform-minded Roman Catholic and long-serving education minister who was considered close to Chancellor Angela Merkel, resigned last February after a university withdrew her doctorate. Schavan denies plagiarism and is fighting the decision.

Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert said Monday that the government plans to make Schavan Germany's Vatican ambassador when the incumbent, career diplomat Reinhard Schweppe, retires this summer. He described her as "a dedicated and distinguished Catholic."

In 2011, Schavan was among lawmakers from Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union who appealed to German bishops to seek an end to the requirement for celibacy, citing "the increasing lack of priests."