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Dispute over bullfight in Fatima town

Plans to hold a bullfight in the Portuguese pilgrimage town of Fatima have been condemned by the local church.

Millions of pilgrims make the trip to Fatima each year to see the place where three children are said to have seen visions of the Virgin Mary in 1917.

Bullfights are popular in Portugal but none have ever been held in the town, which is located about 100 km north of Lisbon.

The Bishop of Fatima, Serafim Ferreira Silva, is said to have told a local paper that "even in the field of sports I wouldn't like violent spectacles".

He added: "I want Fatima to be a sanctuary of peace for mankind and for nature."

Organiser Nazareno do Carmo says the bullfight will be held on grounds outside the town centre where the shrine is located. He says many bullfighting fans are churchgoers.

Council officials are believed to have granted preliminary authorisation for the bullfight on 3 June - a fund-raising event being organised by local equestrian and sports associations.