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Associated Press
Rome – An Italian priest said Tuesday he has backtracked regarding his idea to organize an online beauty pageant for nuns, saying he had been misunderstood and had incurred the protests of faithful and local religious authorities.
The Rev. Antonio Rungi had thought a beauty contest would give nuns more visibility within the Catholic Church and fight the stereotype that they are all old and dour. The “Miss Sister 2008” contest was supposed to start in September on a blog run by the priest, who is a theologian and schoolteacher from the Naples area.
But he changed his mind after seeing reports that suggested nuns would be metaphorically put on a catwalk. He said what he had in mind was not just external beauty but what he called “overall beauty.”
“I wanted to make a blog on vocations, one where everybody could bring their own experiences,” Rungi said by telephone from his town of Mondragone, about 56 kilometers (35 miles) north of Naples. “I wanted to create a showcase for the pastoral experience of nuns.”
“Instead, they made it look like it was a catwalk a la Miss Italy,” he said. “I have been misunderstood.”
The reverend said attacks against him, phone calls and e-mails prompted him to cancel the plan, as well as reported unease of his religious superiors over the idea.
Still, Rungi said he hopes the idea can be revived in the future, if he can bring local religious authorities on board.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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