Opinion & Analysis

Letter from Rome

5:20 PM, April 1, 2019

Vatican City:Why the women threw in the towel and quit L'Osservatore Romano.

Lucetta Scaraffia, journalist and writer, on Oct. 12, 2016. (Photo by Kasia Strek/CIRIC)

Dear Readers,

In this letter I've decided to address you in a more personal way than usual. Because over the past several days something very bad has happened in Rome, which has tarnished the reputations of many very good women — and men — who work at the Vatican.

Like you, I am greatly disturbed by allegations that the editor of L'Osservatore Romano tried to violently muzzle the independent voice of women, prompting the abrupt resignations of the entire all-female staff and editorial board of the paper's monthly magazine, Donna Chiesa Mondo (Women Church World).

Lucetta Scaraffia, the Italian laywoman who founded the over-sized glossy supplement back in 2012, announced the resignations on March 26. She said Andrea Monda, an Italian layman who became the Vatican daily's editor last December, initially tried to exert control over the women. But when that failed, she said, he worked to delegitimize their work by publishing articles in the main paper that contradicted the views of the monthly magazine.

Just when we thought Pope Francis was nudging the Church towards eradicating clericalism and male chauvinism, we get fresh proof that men at the Vatican are ignoring the pope and are doubling down on their control over women. The media has given blanket coverage to this latest Vatican "scandal." And thanks to the near unanimous way in which journalists and commentators have interpreted the incident, reform-minded Catholics and feminists the world over have rightly raised their voices in anger.

I know this is not going to score points with my colleagues but, unfortunately, the reporters and pundits got the story wrong. I'll tell you why in a moment. But, first, permit me to make a few things absolutely clear.

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