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World March 27, 2019

Vatican women’s magazine loses founder, editorial board

By Hannah Brockhaus

Women reading Women-Church-World, a monthly women's magazine insert in the Vatican's L'Osservatore Romano newspaper. The director and editorial staff of the insert have resigned claiming lack of support for open dialogue and for an editorial line run by women. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters) 

VATICAN CITY (CNA)—The founder and entire editorial board of a women’s magazine published by the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano have quit over claims of control and disagreements about the hiring of women with different editorial views.

Founder and editor of Women Church World, Lucetta Scaraffia, told the Associated Press March 26 that L’Osservatore Romano hiring women contributors “with an editorial line opposed to ours” was an effort to “delegitimize us.”

She also claimed that the editor of the Vatican newspaper, Andrea Monda, said he was going to take over as editor of the women’s insert, which she saw as an attempt “to put us under (his) control.”

Monda responded to the accusations March 26, stating that since his appointment in December, he has given Scaraffia, and the all-female editorial committee, “the same total autonomy and the same total freedom that have characterized the monthly insert since its inception.”

He rejected the idea that he had tried to “take over as editor,” saying that his contribution had been limited to “suggesting topics and persons to engage,” which could “be freely evaluated by Prof. Scaraffia and the editorial staff.”

Monda also denied a claim that L’Osservatore Romano had selected women to work for the newspaper on the basis of “obedience,” and said that he had, in fact, asked for “truly free discussions” as a sign of the “openness and parresia (Greek for free speech) requested by Pope Francis.”

Scaraffia, an Italian journalist and historian, began the monthly Women Church World for L’Osservatore Romano in 2012, at the request of its then editor-in-chief, Giovanni Maria Vian. Though connected with the Vatican newspaper, it has operated with editorial independence.

A self-described feminist, Scaraffia, 70, does not advocate for women’s ordination, but has stated many times her belief that there should be female cardinals, and has publicly declared herself to be “leading a war against the patriarchy of the Church.”

Scaraffia’s magazine most recently stirred controversy over an article last year claiming religious sisters in the Catholic Church are poorly treated and economically exploited, which the Associated Press called an “exposé on the underpaid labor and unappreciated intellect of religious sisters.”

On Tuesday, Monda thanked Scaraffia for her work over the years, which he said she carried out “in complete freedom.” He said the women’s magazine will continue to run, and “without clericalism of any kind.”