Shock-rocker MARILYN MANSON sparked furore when he announced his desire to perform in Croatia - but a Croatian Catholic priest has leaped to his defence.

Priest ANTON BOBAS, who claims the best concert he ever attended was seeing Manson live in Germany three years ago, says, "How could Manson turn young people into Satanists and drug addicts in the two hours of his act."

Bobas, who sings a heavy-metal band of his own called GLASNICI NADE (MESSENGERS OF HOPE), says most of Manson's critics have never heard his songs or even seen him perform.

His viewpoint clashes greatly with that of Christian groups from the Istrian peninsula, who are trying to halt the 22 August (05) concert, scheduled to take place in the northern Adriatic town of Pula.

Protestant organisation Oaza wants the concert banned, while seven Catholic priests have offered to pay damages to the organisers if the concert is cancelled, arguing Manson's lyrics and image promote Satanism, drug-use and violence.