The Italian Catholic priest Antonio Rungi, who had launched a competition on the Internet to elect the country's most beautiful sister, Miss Nun 2008, has suspended the contest after a deluge of criticism.
Rungi had invited the Italian religious and novices aged between 18 and 40 to send their photos to participate in a beauty contest that would, according to the priest, “remove the image that girls who become nuns are less attractive”.
"Do you think that all nuns are old and sad? Well that was over. The nuns are primarily women and beauty is a gift from God," told Rungi to the Milanese newspaper Corriere della Sera.
But after launching the competition on his blog, the father began to receive threats and insults: "You end in hell”.
Religious organizations also intervened. A communiqué issued by the president of the Cultural Association of Catholic Teachers, Alberto Giannino, said that the initiative "diminishes the role of nuns dedicated to God, to missions, to charity, and to the most defenceless”.
“This contest will serve to demonstrate that not only is there the beauty we see on television, but there is a more discreet charm” said the priest who lives near the city of Naples.
Following the criticism, Rungi has clarified that the competition was not intended to be a "provocation," only to "draw attention to the beauty of religious life, often little appreciated," and on "the lack of vocations among Italian women."
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