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Vatican, China clash over bishop's ordination

HONG KONG (RNS/ENInews) Vatican and Hong Kong cardinals criticized the official Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association for organizing the ordination of a Catholic bishop in northeastern China without Vatican approval.

On Wednesday (Nov. 24), the Vatican called the ordination a grave violation of the freedom of religion after the state-approved Catholic Church ordained the bishop without the prior approval of Pope Benedict XVI.

The Rev. Joseph Guo Jincai was ordained Nov. 20 amid tight security at the Pingquan church in Chengde city. Beijing and the Vatican have clashed repeatedly over who has the authority to ordain bishops, with China insisting on no "foreign interference" in the life of the Chinese church.

Under a tacit agreement worked out in recent years, the state church would retain the power to name bishops as long as the names are first submitted to the Vatican for review and approval.

"Various bishops were subjected to pressures and restrictions on their freedom of movement, with the aim of forcing them to participate and confer the episcopal ordination," the Vatican said. "Such constraints, carried out by Chinese government and security authorities, constitute a grave violation of freedom of religion and conscience."

Eight Catholic bishops concelebrated the ordinations, and at least two of them were reported to have been forced to join the ceremony.

The Vatican said it had communicated its opposi