The Vatican’s women’s magazine, Women’s Church World, which gathered international attention for exposing the abuse of nuns now faces the resignation of their founder and entire editorial board. The group cited a “climate of distrust and progressive delegitimization” surrounding their work while inside the Vatican communications office.
The women behind Women’s Church World, a subset of L’Osservatore Romano, felt that the men in power were not valuing their work and, therefore, marginalizing them.
Lucetta Scaraffia wrote in her resignation letter to Pope Francis, “It seems to us that a vital initiative is being reduced to silence, to return to the antiquated and arid method of the top-down selection, under direct male control, of women who are perceived as being reliable.”
The monthly publication focused on women’s issues and women’s roles inside the Roman Catholic Church. Throughout the magazine’s history, the editorial board and founders had support from both popes until Andrea Monda became the new director of the overall newspaper.
Once Monda took the position, he attended all editorial meetings with some of his own journalists. The women now felt controlled being observed by new members. Monda denies ever trying to control the magazine, instead claiming that he only suggested possible themes for publication.
He said the magazine had “the same total autonomy and the same freedom that have characterized the monthly insert since it was born.” When the board threatened to resign in January, Monda emphasized that they had autonomy, but the women felt differently. The main newspaper began publishing their own women’s articles with a different editorial slant than Women’s Church World, undermining their work.
According to Scaraffia, “They were trying to delegitimize us in every way they could, they wanted to sabotage the magazine, so we decided to leave, before they took us out.”
The Vatican’s communications office has faced a lot of upheaval in the past several months. After a long struggle to try and modernize the Vatican’s antique communications department to keep up with the age of social media, the director and his deputy quit in December.
The pope has also faced criticism in recent months because of his questionable response to reports of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church and his public support of accused priests. ]
Scaraffia believes that Monda’s editorial choices were just a side effect of those in the Pope’s inner circle. She wrote in her resignation letter, “They wanted us out because we were autonomous. They want only people controlled by them.”
In a world dominated by social media and split-second news updates, it is more important than ever that the Vatican be united in their message to the public. The disruption in the communications office and the resignation of the editorial board shows just how broken the system truly is.