Brazil    RIO ARCHBISHOP ORDERS CONFISCATION OF RELIGIOUS SYMBOLS FROM CARNIVAL
The Virgin Mary took centre stage in Brazil's Carnival preparations last week after Rio's archbishop asked police to confiscate religious images from a samba school, the school says.
   Police carried off a huge pink and purple painting of the Virgin Mary and a four metre cross late on Wednesday that were to appear on a Carnival float after Cardinal Archbishop Eugenio Sales complained they were blasphemous.
   "The Catholic Church says it's a crime to mix religion and Carnival," Tatiane Avelino, secretary at the Unidos da Tijuca samba school, said Thursday. "But we don't want to offend, we want to pay a tribute."
   The Carnival began on Friday evening with a street parade in the city center and continues this week.
   Carnival revellers and church officials have repeatedly clashed over the use of religious icons in the country's spectacular parades -- a practice the Church says is illegal and qualifies as slander under Brazil's criminal code.
   "It is an inadequate use of religious symbols because Carnival is a pagan festival," one of the police officials in charge of the confiscation told the Folha de Sao Paulo daily newspaper.
   
Reuters
    5/3/00

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