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China's Catholic church ordains another bishop
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) July 14, 2011

China's state-controlled Catholic church on Thursday ordained another bishop, its vice president said, in a move likely to worsen ties with the Vatican, which did not give its approval.

Liu Bainian, deputy head of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA) -- which controls the church -- told AFP that Huang Bingzhang had been ordained in Shantou city in the southern province of Guangdong.

The Vatican and China have been locked in a bitter struggle in recent months over control of the Catholic Church in China, with the Vatican saying that ordinations being carried out by the state-run church are illegitimate.

China's 5.7 million Catholics are increasingly caught between showing allegiance to the CPCA, or to the Pope as part of an "underground" Church.

Illustrating this, three bishops loyal to the Pope went missing or were detained recently in an apparent attempt to force them to take part in Huang's state-sanctioned ordination, their diocese members told AFP.

The issue has angered the Vatican, which has not had formal diplomatic ties with Beijing since 1951.

Earlier in July, the Rome excommunicated an "illegitimate" Chinese bishop and in May the Pope called on all bishops to "refuse to take the path of separation" in spite of "pressure" from the communist authorities.

But China has ignored these appeals. Last month, it announced that it would try to ordain at least 40 bishops "without delay".

And earlier this week, foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said that China ordained bishops "in accordance with the principles of independence, self-reliance and self-governance".

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Vatican voices 'pain' over China ordination
Vatican City (AFP) July 14, 2011 - The Vatican expressed its "pain and concern" over the ordination on Thursday of a Catholic bishop in China in a ceremony considered illegitimate by the leadership of the Catholic Church.

"This action goes against the re-unification of the universal Church," Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi was quoted as saying.

He did not exclude the possibility that the bishop could be excommunicated.

The fierce struggle between Chinese Catholics loyal to the pope on one side and the state-sanctioned church on the other has strained diplomatic ties between the Holy See and the Chinese government to breaking point.

The ordination of Father Joseph Huang Bingzhang of Shantou in Guangdong province is the third since November 2010 -- and religious news agency AsiaNews said eight bishops loyal to Rome attended including some involuntarily.

Chinese Catholics said on Tuesday that three bishops had gone missing or been detained in an apparent attempt to force them to take part.

There are around 5.7 million Catholics in China.

The deputy head of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, Savio Hon Tai Fai, told i.media news agency earlier that the move was "another step back" and said China-Vatican ties were at their worst level since the 1950s.

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