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Board of Vatican's 'Women Church World' magazine quits over 'sabotage'

The magazine's founder said they resigned because of "repeated attempts of sabotage and delegitimization" by "heads of Vatican media."
Image: Lucetta Scaraffia, editor in chief of \"Women Church World\" a monthly magazine distributed alongside the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano
Lucetta Scaraffia, editor in chief of "Women Church World," at her house in Rome on Feb. 28, 2018.Domenico Stinellis / AP

ROME — The all-female editorial board of the Vatican's women's magazine has resigned because of "repeated attempts of sabotage and delegitimization," its founder said Tuesday.

Lucetta Scaraffia said that the board of "Women Church World" has come under increasing pressure by the male-dominated "heads of Vatican media" — especially after last month when she and her colleagues denounced sexual abuse of nuns by clergy.

"Women Church World" is a monthly glossy published alongside the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

Scaraffia confirmed to NBC News her entire board has resigned. Earlier she told The Associated Press the decision was initially sparked after the new, male editor of L’Osservatore Romano allegedly told her he would be taking the helm of the women's magazine as well.

Andrea Monda, the editor of L’Osservatore Romano, denied the allegations. He said in a statement that he had "guaranteed ... the same autonomy and freedom" to the women's magazine, including "avoiding to interfere in the publication and limiting my contribution."

He said he had "never selected anyone, men nor women" in order to influence the magazine, but added that he add "encouraged daily debates" in accordance with Pope Francis' general guidance of openness.

Scaraffia launched the monthly insert in 2012, overseeing its growth into a stand-alone Vatican magazine as a voice for women, by women. She announced the board's departure in an editorial set to be published in this week's magazine that has been sent to the printers but not published yet, the AP said.

"They are returning to the practice of selecting women who ensure obedience," the editorial read. "They are returning to clerical self-reference and are giving up that 'parresia' (freedom to speak freely) that Pope Francis so often seeks."

Scaraffia told NBC News that the board had quit because of "repeated attempts of sabotage and delegitimization" by "heads of Vatican media."

In February, Scaraffia caused uproar when she denounced the sexual abuse of nuns by clergy, and the resulting scandal of religious sisters having abortions or giving birth to children who are not recognized by their fathers.

The article prompted Francis to subsequently acknowledge, for the first time, that it was a problem and that he was committed to doing something about it.

The departures are the latest upheaval in the Vatican's communications operations, following abrupt resignations of the Vatican spokesman and his deputy in December over strategic differences with Paolo Ruffini, prefect of the dicastry for communications.

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 Andrea Monda, a writer and professor of religion, as the new editor.

Claudio Lavanga reported from Rome, Alexander Smith and Vivi Vitalone contributed from London.