The founder of Vatican’s magazine “Donne Chiesa Mondo” (Women Church World) has resigned along with the all-female editorial board, citing a return to “the direct control of men.”
Lucetta Scaraffia, who penned an editorial and a letter to Pope Francis published in Italian media, told CNN the decision was the result of an “unease” that began after the new editor of the Vatican newspaper “L’Osservatore Romano,” Andrea Monda, was appointed in December.
“We are throwing in the towel because we feel surrounded by a climate of distrust and progressive de-legitimization,” Scaraffia wrote in the letter to the pontiff. “It seems to us that a vital initiative is reduced to silence and that we return to the antiquated and arid practice of top-down selection, under direct male control, of women deemed trustworthy.”
Scaraffia suggested the pressure had increased after a February article on the sexual abuse of nuns by priests – reporting which prompted Pope Francis to acknowledge the issue for the first time.
“We could no longer be silent: the trust that so many women had placed on us would have been seriously injured,” she said of the report.
She also accused the new editorial direction of L’Osservatore of “weakening” the magazine, launching initiatives with other women contributors that have the effect of “pitting women against each other.”
“Thus we return to the practice of selecting the women from the top, to the choice of collaborators who ensure obedience, and we give up every possibility of opening a true dialogue, free and courageous, among women who freely love the Church and men who are part of it,” Scaraffia wrote in the editorial, to be published in the monthly’s April issue.
In a statement to the media obtained by CNN, Monda denied allegations that he attempted to weaken the monthly and select collaborators based on the criterion of obedience.
“In these few months since my appointment as editor-in-chief, I have guaranteed Prof. Scaraffia, and the group of women on the editorial staff, the same complete autonomy and the same total freedom that have characterized the monthly insert since its inception, by refraining from interfering in any way in the printing of the daily newspaper’s monthly supplement, and limiting my contribution (to suggesting topics and persons to engage) to be freely evaluated by Prof. Scaraffia and the editorial staff,” he said.
The magazine was founded in 2012 as an insert of L’Osservatore but evolved as a stand-alone publication alongside the daily, featuring a 10-woman editorial board.
In February’s article on the sexual abuse of nuns, Scaraffia noted that over the past year, media outlets had “raised the veil on this tragedy,” while women in religious orders around the world had begun to speak out.
“If we continue to close our eyes in front of this scandal – made even more serious by the fact that abuse of women includes procreation and so imposed abortions and children not recognized by priests – the condition of oppression of women in the church will never change.”
The article prompted Pope Francis to acknowledge, for the first time, the sexual abuse of nuns by priests and bishops as a “problem” in the Catholic Church, saying that “we’ve been working on this for some time.”
The resignations at “Donna Chiesa Mondo” are just the latest to hit the Vatican’s media operations.
In December, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke and his deputy, Paloma Garcia Ovejero, quit abruptly, several weeks after Francis appointed Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli as editorial director of all Vatican media and Monda as editor of L’Osservatore.
CNN’s Valentina DiDonato and Delia Gallagher contributed to this report