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Walk out by editors of Zenit

ROME ( The entire editorial staff of the Rome-based Zenit news agency, which reports on Vatican and universal Church news, has resigned en masse, citing a disagreement with the backers of the service, the Legionaries of Christ.

The editors of the English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic editions of Zenit all submitted their resignations on October 7. There is usually a German language editor as well, but the spot was vacant at the time.

The mass departure causes an immediate crisis for the news agency, which has amassed an email list of 450,000 to which it sends its daily stories.

The six outgoing editors said that they were leaving Zenit with great personal sadness, but were troubled by editorial interference by the Legionaries of Christ, saying it was pressuring them adopt an editorial line more closely aligned with the interests of the congregation.

They explained, “The initial vision of Zenit was never to make it a service of a particular congregation, but rather of the universal Church. This has been the spirit with which we have worked throughout the years and the spirit we could not betray.”

The founder and director of the Zenit agency, Jesus Colina, was dismissed in late September after a series of disagreements with the publisher over similar questions of editorial vision. In a report on CNS on October 11, he said that the Legionaries had not financed Zenit in the 14 years since its founding, but did control the board that oversees the agency.

A spokesperson for the Legionaries of Christ, Father Andreas Schoggl, said that the agencies jounalists operated with editorial independence and that Colina’s departure was not related to any change in policy or editorial line.

On October 12, the executive director of Zenit, Alberto Ramírez, announced that a new editorial coordinator had been appointed, Antonio Gaspari. He is simply described as an Italian journalist with long experience.

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