- Associated Press - Monday, February 2, 2015

VATICAN CITY (AP) - The Vatican’s culture minister acknowledged Monday that his office must expand its horizons after a promotional video for a Vatican conference on women featuring a sexy Italian actress was so ridiculed in North America it was taken down.

The video featured actress Nancy Brilli asking women to contribute a 60-second clip of their lives to be broadcast at this week’s plenary meeting of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

The video was the brainchild of 15 professional women - all but one of them Italian - chosen by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi to advise him on the agenda for “Women’s Cultures: Equality and Difference.”

The disconnect between how the video was received in Italy - positively - and the negative reaction in the English-speaking world highlighted how the Vatican often forgets it’s a global institution, not an Italian one. In Italy, showgirls are a mainstay of prime-time television and the country’s three-time premier has been on trial for alleged exploits with underage girls at his “bunga bunga” parties.

“It allowed us to understand … how we must represent not just the traditional sensibilities of Europe but also that of other cultures and other horizons,” Ravasi conceded at a press conference Monday. “It allowed me to realize that the sensibilities were profoundly different.”

Ravasi planned to appoint a permanent women’s consultancy group to his office, though he said for practical reasons it would be predominantly Italian.

Speaking at the same briefing, Brilli defended the video as well as a woman’s right to choose plastic surgery. In a document for the meeting prepared by the 15 women, non-therapeutic cosmetic surgery was condemned as an “aggression” against the female body, “like a burqa made of flesh.”

Brilli, whose companion is a well-known Italian plastic surgeon, said there was a difference between a woman who goes under the knife because she feels she has to conform to another’s idea of beauty and someone who simply isn’t happy with her body.

“If they feel better, where is the damage?” she asked.


Follow Nicole Winfield at www.twitter.com/nwinfield

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