In 2007, Lucetta Scaraffia became the first female contributor to the Vatican’s daily newspaper ‘L’Osservatore Romano’. Soon she proposed the creation of a publication dedicated to women, an approved by Pope Benedict XVI.
“There are so many more women working within the church than there are men, doing interesting and intelligent things, but nobody knows about it,” Scaraffia says. “The magazine set out to give a voice to these women.”
Scaraffia didn’t disappoint — depending on one’s expectations. Early on she began to call out misogyny in the church. In March 2018, she produced an article exposing the servitude of nuns who work “for a pittance to cook and clean for clerics.”
“This created so much embarrassment and hostility in the Catholic hierarchy as the priests thought it was their right to have an unpaid nun serving them. They believe that women become nuns to serve them; it’s a mistaken belief but is very much rooted within the church,” says Scaraffia in a hard-hitting story by The Guardian. “Women become nuns because they have a vocation and want to help those who are suffering or fragile, not to serve priests.”
Scaraffia’s position as editor of ‘Women Church World’ hit the wall on March 26, 2019 when she sent a letter to Pope Francis, telling him “We are throwing in the towel.” After exposing the shocking sexual abuse of nuns and secret abortions paid for by priests, Scaraffia was done. Note, that the editor/professor also has many grievances against feminism, so listen to her and don’t make assumptions about her point of view on women. Scaraffia said that her 11-strong editorial team felt “surrounded by an atmosphere of distrust and progressive delegitimisation.” Church elders were attempting to gag them, she claimed. “A vital initiative has been reduced to silence and there has been a return to the antiquated and arid custom of choosing women considered trustworthy from on high, under the direct control of men.”
Scaraffia told the AP that the decision was taken after the new editor of L'Osservatore, Andrea Monda, told her earlier this year he would take over as editor. 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.
"After the attempts to put us under control, came the indirect attempts to delegitimze us," she said, citing other women brought in to write for L'Osservatore "with an editorial line opposed to ours."
This story has a strong odor of the 2012 Vatican’s investigation into progressive American nuns. Factually speaking, on the subject of the Catholic Church and women, some things never change. Hope springs eternal, but patriarchal reality always smacks women in the face.
Related: With a church in crisis, why do Catholic women stay? America Magazine