Editor and all Vatican women’s magazine editorial board resign

The founder and all-female editorial board of the Vatican’s women’s magazine Women Church World have resigned after what they say was a Vatican campaign to discredit them and put them “under the direct control of men.”

In the final editorial and open letter to Pope Francis, released to news media ahead of the magazine’s 1 April publication, chief editor Lucetta Scaraffia complains of feeling “surrounded by a climate of distrust and progressive de-legitimization.”

So far, there has been no comment about the letter from the Vatican.

The glossy monthly is listed on Vatican daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano’s website as one of its eight published sections.

Since Women Church World’s inception – first as a supplement in 2012 and then as a magazine in 2016 – L’Osservatore has offered Scaraffia editorial freedom.

According to a 2016 edition of L’Osservatore, the magazine would “delve into the role of women in the Church” with editorial independence.

In February this year Scaraffia denounced the sexual abuse of nuns by clergy and the resulting scandal of religious sisters having abortions or giving birth to children who are not recognized by their fathers.

The article prompted Francis to acknowledge, for the first time, that abuse of nuns is a problem and that he is committed to doing something about it.

Also in February, L’Osservatore’s new editor Andrea Monda said he would also take over as editor of the women’s magazine. (Monda became editor of L’Osservatore last December.)

However Scaraffia says Monda reconsidered after the editorial board threatened to resign and the Catholic weeklies that distribute translations of Women Church World in France, Spain and Latin America, told her they would stop distributing it.

“After the attempts to put us under control, came the indirect attempts to delegitimize us,” she says.

Monda says he did not interfere “in any way” in the printing of the monthly magazine but only suggested topics and persons for the publication.

He also says he guaranteed the magazine “complete autonomy” and “total freedom,” and its budget had been confirmed.

Scaraffia disagrees.

Women were brought in to write for L’Osservatore “with an editorial line opposed to ours,” she says.

Scaraffia says that resulted in obscuring the magazine’s words, “de-legitimizing us as a part of the Holy See’s communications.

The Vatican is “returning to the practice of selecting women [writers] who ensure obedience,” to a “clerical self-reference” that surrenders “parrhesia (freedom to speak freely) that Pope Francis so often seeks.

“We are throwing in the towel because we feel surrounded by a climate of distrust and progressive de-legitimization,” Scaraffia says.

Thanking Scaraffia for her “valuable work,” Monda says “in no way” did he choose anyone “with the criterion of obedience” but rather with “the sign of the openness and parrhesia requested by Pope Francis, with whose words and with whose Magisterium we all identify.”



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