Top Catholic Magazine Resists Vatican

By Wooden, Cindy | National Catholic Reporter, December 6, 1996 | Go to article overview

Top Catholic Magazine Resists Vatican


Wooden, Cindy, National Catholic Reporter


Italy's highest circulation Catholic magazine has come under fire from church authorities for articles on sexual morality later quoted in the secular press.

The president of the Italian bishops' conference, apparently with the support of the Vatican's doctrinal congregation, has asked the superior of the Pauline Fathers to establish a board to review any article that deals with doctrinal or moral issues before publication.

The director general of St. Paul Periodicals, sponsored by the order, has told staff members the request was turned down and the magazines would remain editorially independent.

The incident came to light when the Italian news agency ADISTA published the text of the director general's letter to the staff Nov. 16.

The Pauline publications include Famiglia Cristiana, the No. 1 Catholic periodical in the country. The weekly magazine has a circulation surpassing everything in Italy except for guides to television programming.

Several times in the spring of 1996, Italian daily newspapers ran stories about articles in Famiglia Cristiana dealing with masturbation, homosexuality and the separation of married couples. The articles, written by Pauline Fr. Leonardo Zega, director of Famiglia Cristiana, offered pastoral responses to readers' questions dealing with the issues.

For example, Zega told the parents of a teenager caught masturbating that, while Catholic teaching considers masturbation a sin, they should not be overly concerned about something that many physicians and psychologists see as a normal part of adolescence.

Within Catholic teaching, he said, "there are at stake much more important things than the prohibition of putting one's hands on certain parts of the body to find pleasure."

Zega urged the parents of a young homosexual man to try to "understand him in his diversity" and to continue offering him love and support.

Pauline Fr. Silvio Pignotti, superior of the order, was called to the doctrinal congregation for a July 3 meeting with Cardinal Camillo Ruini of Rome, president of the Italian bishops, conference, and with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the congregation, to discuss the contents of Pauline magazines and the publicity they received in the secular press. …

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