The founder and staff of a Catholic all-women’s magazine for the Vatican have all quit the publication at once, citing censorship on a major story about nun abuse among other issues.
The Women Church World magazine was founded by Lucetta Scaraffia seven years ago. That was enough time, apparently, to ruffle feathers within the Vatican, suggesting once again that the Catholic Church has a problem giving women any kind of power.
Scaraffia was known as a comparatively liberal voice inside the city-state’s ancient walls, advocating for a larger role for women in the church and, more recently, devoting editorial space to the long-hidden issue of the abuse of nuns by clergy members.
But Scaraffia said she perceived discomfort with her publication’s work, and she noted that the Vatican’s newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, had been publishing pieces that contradicted the Women Church World editorial line. She said her publication’s editorial freedom had also been threatened with an “attempt” to put L’Osservatore Romano’s new top editor, Andrea Monda, in charge of Women Church World.
In an open letter to Pope Francis, Scaraffia accused the church of preferring women chosen by male management and “deemed reliable.”
“We are throwing in the towel because we feel surrounded by a climate of mistrust and progressive delegitimization,” the letter to the pope said.
Gender may have been less of an issue, though, than the independence of a magazine that wasn’t afraid to tell the truth about what happened within Church walls.
Now, the resignations could be the latest public relations nightmare for the Church.
The resignations come at a sensitive time for the Catholic Church, which has been dealing with a cascade of abuse-related cases worldwide and has been trying to show it is now more attuned to the problem. Church officials say they have tried to more closely involve women in the debate over how the Vatican can better respond to abuse. At a summit on clerical abuse in February, several women were given major speaking roles. After one woman’s presentation, Francis delivered an off-the-cuff response, describing the “feminine genius” that he saw reflected in the church.
But the Vatican remains a male-dominated world, even as its communications arm has gone through a year of staffing changes and personnel upheaval.
“Male-dominated world” is an understatement when it comes to the Catholic Church. The last thing they ever want to do is give women more freedom. These developments won’t make things any better.
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