China ordains third bishop without Pope's approval

Thu Jul 14, 2011 2:36pm EDT
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By Sui-Lee Wee

BEIJING (Reuters) - China ordained a third bishop without the Pope's approval on Thursday, the honorary president of the state-backed church said, in a move likely to further strain tense relations between the Chinese government and the Vatican.

China's state-sanctioned Catholic church ordained Joseph Huang Bingzhang as bishop in Shantou city in southern Guangdong province Thursday morning, the honorary president of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, Liu Bainian, said, citing sources with direct knowledge.

Two other sources, who declined to be identified, told Reuters that Huang's ordination was a public ceremony attended by about 1,000 people.

Eight bishops loyal to the Holy See participated in the ceremony, a source close to the Vatican told Reuters, citing six sources who had direct knowledge of the situation. He declined to be named, citing the sensitivity of the matter.

"All eight bishops were requested by civil authorities to go and ordain the new illicit bishop," said the source. "All of them were accompanied by the police to the place of the event. The majority of the bishops refused and resisted to go."

Calls made to Huang's church in Shantou went unanswered.

Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong, an outspoken critic of Beijing and at times of the Vatican's handling of issues with China, said on a visit to the United States that relations could only be improved in the long term through dialogue with China's Communist Party leadership.

"We hope that by this new confrontation the government is made aware of the problems and then may really come to a dialogue with the Holy See, then we may find some solution," Zen said at a news conference in New York on Thursday.   Continued...