Priest cancels internet 'beauty contest' for nuns

Click to follow

An Italian priest who had planned an online "pageant" for nuns has called off the project, saying he was misinterpreted and had no intention of running a beauty contest.

"My superiors were not happy. The local bishop was not happy, but they did not understand me either," said Father Antonio Rungi. "It was not at all my intention to put nuns on the catwalk."

Fr Rungi's idea appear-ed in newspapers around the world after he described on his blog a contest for nuns, called by some "Sister Italy 2008".

"It was interpreted as more of a physical thing. Now, no one is saying that nuns can't be beautiful, but I was thinking about something more complete," said the priest, who is a member of the Passionists religious order in Mondragone in southern Italy. He explained that the contest, in which nuns would vote for themselves on his blog, would include attributes such as their spirituality, social awareness, charity and other qualities.

He wrote that his intention was to show "the interior beauty" of a nun and the work she does for the church and for society, mostly in education and health care.

"We have to draw more attention to the world of nuns, who are often not sufficiently appreciated by society," he wrote, adding that he had hoped his initiative would help boost sagging vocations. "Many monasteries in Italy are dying because of a lack of religious vocations," he added.

Fr Rungi said that he had received a lot of calls of support but also many emails from people who attacked him for wanting to create a Miss Italy-style event. "Some of them were really nasty," he said.