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Confusion can be used, mentally speaking.
Physically speaking, a mess (people arguing, fighting, yelling, whatever, or many things out of place) is also called a "confusão".
Confusão / Mal entendimento = Confusion / misunderstanding
Confusão / Tumulto / Alvoroço = Mess / Tumult / Rampage
Confusão / Bagunça = Mess / Disorganization
I would hear two different things:
"The mess started in the church." Meaning it started in the physical building that happened to be a church, or that it started in the institution or certain denomination of the church.
"The mess started in church." Meaning it started during a church service.
Right. The whole mess started in church would be talking about a family argument or mishap or something on that level. The confusion started in the church would be talking about how the institution of religion is responsible for a widespread misunderstanding or social ill.
Help us out, PaulEnrique or DanMoller, which is meant in Portuguese?
Also interesting to note that if I say the whole mess it's suddenly idiomatic instead of a puzzling translation (at least for this native US speaker).