ROME (Reuters) – Was it her looks or lifestyle that led the Roman Catholic Church to cause a minor media frenzy by firing an Italian religion teacher this year?
Caterina Bonci said Church authorities decided she was just too attractive and dressed too sexy to teach religion after 14 years on the job.
The Church says it sacked the 38-year-old blonde from the central Adriatic city of Fano because she is divorced.
No matter who is right, Bonci has been all over the Italian media demanding to go back to her job teaching religion to children in state schools on behalf of the local diocese.
She said she has never hidden her 2000 divorce from Church authorities, dresses down when teaching and defended her right to dress how she likes in her private life.
“I don’t see what it matters if a teacher is good looking or not as long she is qualified,” she told Reuters by telephone.
“In school, I dressed normally. In my private life, I have every right to dress any way I want.”
Local media quoted lawyers for the diocese as saying she was fired because she was divorced and so should not be teaching religion for a Church that does not recognise divorce.
Even Italy’s leading newspaper, Corriere della Sera, gave readers a break from pages of stories about scandal at the Bank of Italy and government bickering with the teasing headline:
“Teacher in mini-skirt fired by diocese”.
Bonci said she separated from her husband in 1995 and divorced in 2000 and that both events had not affected her job or raised eyebrows from her employers at the time.
She said reports that fathers accompanied their children to religion classes so they could look at her meant little to her as long as the children came to class.
“When a woman is considered too sexy and attractive in a small town it becomes a big thing,” she said.
Bonci has now become a minor celebrity on the Adriatic coast and national television talk shows are queuing up to interview her, but she says she want only one thing.
“I would like my job back. I think it is my right,” she said.