|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.