Documents. Lucetta Scaraffia's letter to the Pope and the reply from the director of "L’Osservatore Romano"
On the morning of Tuesday 26 March, just as Pope Francis was visiting Rome, the earthquake that brought all the Vatican media under the full control of Santa Marta saw the last bastion of resistance fall: "Women, Church, World ", The monthly supplement of" L'Osservatore Romano ", with the resignation in block of the director, Lucetta Scaraffia, and of all the members of the editorial committee, including the Dominican psychologist and theologian Catherine Aubin, lecturer at the" Angelicum ", and the authoritative Jewish historian Anna Foa.
Lucetta Scaraffia, until Giovanni Maria Vian was abruptly removed as director of "L'Osservatore Romano" on December 18, was also "editorial consultant" of the newspaper of the Holy See, as well as a columnist, and daily supervised the layout of the newspaper , before it was put into print.
From that day this role has ceased and his signature has disappeared from the pages of the newspaper. However, it remained at the head of "Women Church World", which recently had raised the veil over the exploitation of so many sisters by members of the clergy, an exploitation also made of sexual abuse.
Settimo Cielo emphasized an editorial in "L 'L'Osservatore Romano" on 26 July, of vigorous and original defense of the encyclical of Paul VI "Humanae vitae".
The reasons that have now led Lucetta Scaraffia and her collaborators to leave are explained - as well as in various interviews - in the letter she wrote to Pope Francis, reproduced in full below.
This is followed by the "note" of the current director of "L'Osservatore Romano" Andrea Monda, released on the morning of March 26th.
THE LETTER OF LUCETTA SCARAFFIA TO THE POPE
Dear Pope Francis,
With great regret we inform you that we are suspending our collaboration with “donna chiesa mondo”, the monthly magazine of the Osservatore Romano founded by us, of which Benedict XVI allowed its birth seven years ago and which you have always encouraged and supported. We throw in the towel because we feel surrounded by a climate of mistrust and progressive delegitimization, from a look in which we do not feel esteem and credit to continue our collaboration.
With the closure of “women church world” a new and exceptional experience for the Church ends, or rather breaks, for the first time: a group of women, who have organized themselves independently and who have voted within them and the entrance of new editors, he was able to work in the heart of the Vatican and of the communication of the Holy See, with free intelligence and heart, thanks to the consent and support of two popes. Our initiative, as you know, has had and has an uncommon success, with a printed edition in Spanish published by "Vida Nueva", a more recent edition in French with "La Vie" and an English edition published online.
In these seven years, our goal is to give a voice to women who, as Churches, work in the Church and for the Church, opening themselves to a dialogue with women of other religions, has come true and involved thousands of lay people and consecrated women, confronting continuously with thought and with the vision of lay people, of consecrated persons, of presbyters, of bishops. There were many topics addressed: from scientific discoveries to political presence; from the reinterpretation enriched by the acquisitions of the most recent history of holy doctors of the Church, such as Teresa d 'Avila and Ildegarda di Bingen, to canon law; from the special feminine qualities that emerged in the proclamation of the Gospel and in the actions of pacification in the world to the requests of consecrated women in the Church today. In each issue space has been given to meditation on the Gospel texts, edited by the sisters of the monastic community of Bose, and to biblical exegesis by scholars, even non-Catholic. From this second vein three books were born about the women of the Old Testament, those of the Gospels and those of St. Paul, edited by Nuria Calduch Benages and also published in Spanish.
Our editorial staff, which met annually for a three-day spiritual retreat at the monastery of Bose, worked as an intellectual and interior laboratory, attentive to listening and welcoming what the readers indicated as a fruitful place and as a research reality, convinced like you that reality is superior to ideologies, to open new avenues of dialogue. And we were ready to walk even unexplored paths. Particularly rich and interesting was the deepening of the relationship with Muslim women, which was accompanied by the rediscovery of a dense female presence in the ancient Islamic tradition, today almost ignored. We have often felt like miners who discovered precious metal strands and brought them to the light and to the knowledge of all: a true human and universal wealth, and in this sense "catholic".
Of course, among the many letters we have received from readers, including numerous consecrated women, there have also emerged painful cases and experiences that have filled us with indignation and suffering. As you well know, we were not the first to speak, as perhaps we should have, of the serious denunciations of exploitation to which many consecrated women have been and are subjected (both in the subordinate service and in the sexual abuse) but we have told it after that the facts had emerged, also thanks to many media. We could no longer be silent: the trust that so many women had placed in us would have been seriously injured.
Now it seems to us that a vital initiative is reduced to silence and that we return to the antiquated and arid custom of choosing from above, under direct male control, of women deemed reliable. In this way a positive work and a beginning of a frank and sincere relationship are discarded, an opportunity for "parresia", to return to clerical self-referentiality. Just when this road is denounced by you as infertile.
Holy Father, to you and your predecessor we owe the gratitude for these seven years of passionate work which - we are sure of it - has contributed, albeit to a small extent, to giving feminine conscience, thought and soul to the Church in the world: why indeed, as we read in your apostolic exhortation "Evangelii gaudium" (104) women "ask the Church profound questions that challenge her and that cannot be easily evaded".
21 March 2019
THE NOTE FROM THE DIRECTOR OF "L 'OSSERVATORE ROMANO" ANDREA MONDA
I take note of the free and autonomous decision of Professor Scaraffia to interrupt the collaboration with "L 'L'Osservatore Romano", and to consider her direction of "Women Church World" closed.
Our sincere thanks go to you, together with the good wishes of all, for the precious work carried out in these years with great commitment and in complete freedom.
In these few months since I was appointed Director I have guaranteed to Professor Scaraffia, and to the group of women of the editorial staff, the same total autonomy and the same total freedom that have characterized the monthly insert since it was born, refraining from interfering in any way on the invoice of the monthly supplement of the newspaper and limiting myself to offer my due contribution (in the suggestion of themes and persons to be possibly involved) to the free evaluation of the teacher Scaraffia and of the preparation of the supplement.
My commitment was not in any way to weaken the monthly "Women Church World", to which the budget was rather fully confirmed and translation and dissemination in other countries was guaranteed despite the general need to contain the costs of Curia.
My commitment has been and remains that of strengthening the daily edition of "L'Osservatore Romano" (certainly not in terms of competitiveness but complementarity with the supplement) as is natural and rightly so.
In no way have I selected someone, man or woman, with the criterion of obedience. If anything, on the contrary, avoiding to interfere with the monthly supplement, I have asked the bill of the newspaper for really free comparisons, not built on the mechanism of one against the other or closed groups. And I did it right in the sign of openness and “parresia” asked by Pope Francis, in whose words and in whose magisterium we all recognize ourselves.
If, on the basis of ecclesial and cultural actuality, I have devoted attention to issues such as plurality and difference in the world of the Church, this derives only from the centrality that these themes, thanks to the role of women, have acquired.
Next Monday 1 April - just to give an example - a round table will be held in the offices of the editorial staff starting from the publication of the essay, signed by 17 renowned theologians and scholars, "The voice of women" (Ed. Paoline).
As for the future of the monthly supplement of "L'Osservatore Romano", I can assure you that it was not in question. And so his story does not stop but continues. Without clericalisms of any kind.