The all-female editorial team behind the Vatican's women's magazine have resigned over what they describe as attempts to stifle their reporting and bring in more "obedient" journalists, its founder said Tuesday.
"We are throwing in the towel because we feel surrounded by a climate of distrust and progressive de-legitimisation," Woman Church World founder Lucetta Scaraffia wrote in an editorial published by Italian religious news blog Il Sismografo.
The magazine -- which has not shied away from tackling hard-hitting issues such as the sexual abuse of nuns by priests -- began life seven years ago as an insert and is published along with the Vatican's L'Osservatore Romano newspaper.
Scaraffia said the new editor of L'Osservatore, Andrea Monda, was attempting to "weaken" the monthly by bringing in external collaborators in a bid to control the editorial line.
"They are returning to the practice of selecting women who ensure obedience... (and) giving up that 'parresia' (freedom to speak freely) that Pope Francis so often seeks," she said.
Monda released a statement denying that he had selected any collaborators, female or male, based on their obedience, and saying Woman Church World would continue.
In an open letter to the pope, Scaraffia defended the monthly, saying stories that may have raised hackles in the Vatican had only been covered after the story had already broken and the facts were in the public domain.
"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.