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China Ordains Bishop Without Vatican Approval
BY FRANCIS X. ROCCA ©2011 Religion News Service
tepping up a protracted confrontation with the Vatican, China's state-run Catholic church ordained a bishop on June 29 without the approval of Pope Benedict XVI just three days after police arrested the pope's choice for bishop of another Chinese diocese.
The Rev. Paul Lei Shiyin was ordained as bishop of Leshan. According to the Vatican-affiliated Asia News service, the seven bishops who ordained Lei included the president of the state-run Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA).
For more than half a century, China's 12 million to 15 million Catholics have been divided between the CPCA and an "underground" church of Catholics loyal to the pope.
In recent years, the Vatican and Beijing have tacitly agreed on a number of bishops acceptable to both sides. For example, all seven bishops who celebrated Wednesday's ordination had been approved by both the Vatican and the CPCA.
But last November, Joseph Guo Jincai was ordained the bishop of Chengde without papal approval; on June 23, a CPCA spokesman said the state-run church planned to ordain more than 40 new bishops "without delay."
The Vatican recently reiterated that bishops who consecrate other bishops without a papal mandate incur automatic excommunication, as do the men they consecrate and all other ministers who participate in the ceremony, unless they were "coerced" to participate.