By Elena Dini
ROME — The May issue of the Vatican monthly women’s magazine, “Donne Chiesa Mondo” (“Women, Church, World”), was recently published by a new editorial board that was created in April 2019, after the previous coordinator and her staff resigned.
“The challenge seems to be that of collaborating, sharing spaces, fighting clericalism in any form it presents itself, as well as praying and thinking together, men and women together,” reads the editorial that introduces the May issue, focused on the theme, “The voice of women.”
The editorial board comprises nine women and the coordinator, Rita Pinci.
“We are journalists, consecrated women, theologians, philosophers, writers, Biblical scholars and historians and each one of us, on behalf of all of us, tries to express within one’s own field a different way of reading the woman’s presence in the Church,” said editorial board member Elena Buia Rutt.
The poet and translator has contributed to cultural programs on Italy’s Radio 3 for 20 years. In addition to writing for “L’Osservatore Romano,” she has a book review column in the Jesuit-run newspaper “La Civilità Cattolica,” and will contribute to the women’s magazine with book reviews, profiles of women artists and poems.
“The feminine perspective still has to be acknowledged and valorized,” said Rutt, adding that “all women on the editorial board expressed support for collaboration and reciprocity between men and women.”
“The magazine wants to represent and engage as many voices of women as possible within the Church. It offers a horizontal structure of a committee we can define as ‘synodal,’ walking the way towards the formation of a magazine open to all women,” Rutt said.
For the first time, the editorial board includes non-Christian women, such as Amy-Jill Levine, a Jewish scholar of the New Testament and Muslim theologian Shahrzad Houshmand.
“It is an honour to be working with such a diverse and dedicated group of women,” said Levine, who added that her articles will discuss the lives of women who followed Jesus in Biblical times; the roles of daughters, wives, mothers, and widows; celibacy and marriage; and various ways women have interpreted the sacred texts over the centuries.
Houshmand, who teaches in Rome, described the atmosphere of the new editorial board.
“We met twice for a long time and since the first meeting we felt harmony, notwithstanding our diversities. We want to bring fresh air, new language, new openings,” she said. “The presence for the first time in the editorial board of two non-Christian women is a sign of great opening and willingness to embrace the world, as the title of the magazine suggests.”
“I hope we will be able to give voice to women, but this does not mean to reduce the magazine to women but to highlight women’s requests with a feminine approach while being open to men’s voices, too,” she added.
Houshmand said the next issue will address the topic of justice.
“We will reflect upon injustices,” and be attentive “to the cry of women and children who suffer in today’s world,” she said.