Archbishop: Indian Christians Face Forced Conversion

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Roman Catholic archbishop over the Indian
state of Orissa says Christians who fled intense persecution there
are being forced to convert to Hinduism if they return.

Archbishop Raphael Cheenath, who visited Washington last week,
said Christians who refuse "have been assaulted, tortured or killed" in front of their families. He said he's assured parishioners in his archdiocese that signing conversion papers under duress won't change their status as Catholics.

Since last August, dozens of Christians have been killed and thousands have been injured. Christians' homes and churches have
been burned and an estimated 50,000 have fled into jungles or
refugee camps.

Cheenath says India's Supreme Court has ordered the government to stop the violence and pay compensation to the victims, but many are too frightened to return home.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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