Religious turmoil has increased in INDIA. A Catholic priest was found beaten to death in his home in the northern district of Uttar Pradesh on June 7. Although officials say the murder of Brother George Kuzhikandam, 37, could have been related to robbery, Catholic Unions demanded the suspension of police officers for incompetence. The next day, bombs exploded in four churches throughout the country's southern states, injuring at least one person. Christians in India have protested the government's explanation that the explosions were caused by divisions among believers.

Shaiboub Arsal, a member of the Coptic Orthodox Church in EGYPT, was convicted June 5 of the 1998 double murder of his cousin and another Egyptian youth in the southern village of El-Kosheh. Arsal, 38, was sentenced to 15 years at hard labor, the harshest possible penalty under Egyptian law. Amid considerable evidence for Arsal's innocence, he awaits an appeal that has been filed before the Egyptian High Court. A massive three-day rampage on El-Kosheh five months ago left 21 Christians murdered and 260 homes and businesses gutted and looted. Although government officials claim the attack sprang from conflicts between Christians and Muslims, only one Muslim was accidentally shot and killed by a peer during the conflict.

Church leaders in AUSTRALIA recently completed a weeklong bus trip across the country to promote reconciliation between races, cultures, and churches. Leaders from nine Australian churches were each accompanied by a person under the age of 26. The group interacted with local people in an attempt to break down stereotypes and ease racial tension, particularly with the country's Aboriginal people, who were treated harshly when white settlement began in the country 200 years ago. "We are putting a bridge across this huge continent," pilgrimage director Tony Doherty, a Catholic priest, told Ecumenical News International.

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