Bhuddist Bhutan persecuting Christians, Vatican says

VATICAN CITY (AP) - A Vatican agency said today it is receiving reports that the Asian kingdom of Bhutan is stepping up pressure on its tiny Christian community.

Fides, the news service of the Vatican's missionary arm, quoted Christian Solidarity Worldwide as reporting that fear is growing among Christians, who are less than one per cent of the population in the predominantly Buddhist kingdom.

''Bhutanese Christians are being told to either leave their religion or leave the country,'' Fides quoted the British-based organization, which monitors religious freedom for Christians, as saying.

The Vatican organization said it has received its own reports through the years of the persecution of Christians in Bhutan.

It said, citing Christian Solidarity, that on Palm Sunday, April 8, Bhutanese authorities and police went to churches to register the names of believers, and that many pastors were detained for interrogation and threatened with imprisonment.