The founder and the all-female editorial committee of Vatican daily L'Osservatore Romano's monthly insert Women Church World quit en masse Tuesday citing a Vatican campaign to discredit them and put them "under the direct control of men". Scaraffia had become perhaps the most prominent woman at the Holy See, even though she never drew a salary for her seven-year leadership of the magazine she founded.
In a statement Tuesday, Monda, who was named past year as the top editor of L'Osservatore Romano, said Scaraffia's decision had been "free and autonomous". They say it only got worse after they denounced the sexual abuse of nuns by clergy. She said he 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.
The effect, she said, was to "obscure our words, delegitimizing us as a part of the Holy See's communications". The Catholic Church has been facing increasing scrutiny over the abuse of nuns by clergy. He said he had guaranteed the women "the same total autonomy and same total freedom" the magazine had previously enjoyed and had only made some suggestions about story ideas and people to involve in them.
Mr Monda reacted on Tuesday with a promise to continue publishing Women Church World and he denied that anyone had been selected on the basis of obedience. "It is the opposite, avoiding any interference with the monthly magazine, I have supported truly free dialogue, not based on the mechanism of pitting one against the other, or of closed groups".
In her open letter to Francis, Scaraffia said her publication had received many "painful" letters from women describing their experiences, and it was her duty to speak out.
"They are returning to the practice of selecting women who ensure obedience", the editorial read.
"Now it seems a vital initiative has been reduced to silence, and we return to the antiquated and barren custom of selecting, under direct male control, those women considered trustworthy", she added.
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Pope Francis has said he is committed to doing something about the abuse of nuns.
On Dec. 31, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke, an American, and his Spanish deputy, Paloma Garcia Ovejero, resigned over disagreements on overall communications strategy.
Scaraffia, a history professor and journalist, is an avowed feminist who nevertheless toed the line on official doctrine.
But as a result of the article, Francis was asked about the issue - marking the first time that a pontiff has acknowledged such a form of abuse.
It remains unclear what the future will bring for the magazine.
Ruffini's task has been to consolidate all the Vatican's media operations under one roof and with a coherent editorial line. In December he fired L'Osservatore's editor, Giovanni Maria Vian, who had been a strong backer of "Women Church World", and appointed Monda, a writer and professor of religion as the new editor.
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