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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 May 2006, 10:37 GMT 11:37 UK
Chinese install second bishop
A Roman Catholic congregation in Beijing
China's Roman Catholic Church has about 10 million members
China's Catholic Church has installed another bishop without approval from the Vatican - the second in three days.

Liu Xinhong was consecrated during a 90-minute ceremony at a church in Anhui province on Wednesday morning.

The Chinese Church does not recognise the Vatican's power to appoint bishops, causing tensions between the two sides.

On Tuesday the head of Hong Kong's Roman Catholic Church, Cardinal Joseph Zen, said the Vatican should halt talks with China over the issue.

Relations between Beijing and the Holy See began to deteriorate on Sunday, when China's state-sanctioned Church ordained Ma Yinglin as a bishop in the south-western province of Yunnan.

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The Chinese government acts in its own interest and so does the Catholic Church
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The Vatican had asked for the ceremony to be delayed, in order to assess the candidate, but Beijing said it should not interfere with Chinese internal affairs.

The decision incensed Cardinal Zen, who has been at the forefront of recent moves to improve ties between China and the Vatican.

He said the Chinese authorities had imposed a "fait accompli" and had been "very disloyal".

"By appointing their own bishops hastily and illegally, they [the Patriotic Catholic Association] tried to impose their own selection on the Vatican. This shows disregard for the spirit of the negotiation and disrupts mutual trust," Cardinal Zen told the BBC Chinese service on Tuesday.

'Politically motivated'

This widely expected second ordination is likely to upset the Vatican even further.

According to Cardinal Zen, the Holy See did not believe that Liu Xinhong was adequately qualified to become a bishop.

Cardinal Joseph Zen
Cardinal Joseph Zen is an outspoken democracy advocate

But Liu Bainian, a vice chairman of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, rejected claims that the recent appointments threatened Beijing's ties with the Vatican.

Talking to Reuters news agency, he suggested that his critics were politically motivated, saying: "I'm afraid that some people in the Church are not acting in the Church's interests, but saying things for their own interest, status and political ideology."

China has a state-sanctioned Roman Catholic Church but also a bigger, unofficial Church that is loyal to the Pope.

BBC East Asia regional editor Clare Harkey says Cardinal Zen has blamed the state agency in charge of Catholic affairs for the appointments rather than the Chinese government itself.

However, she says, few believe that the bishops could have been consecrated without top-level approval.

According to China's authorities the state-sanctioned Church has about four million members, while the Vatican says the Roman Catholic Church there has some 10 million worshippers.

China has said it would like better relations with the Vatican, but insists that first the Holy See must cut its diplomatic links with Taiwan.




SEE ALSO:
China-Vatican talks 'should end'
02 May 06 |  Asia-Pacific
China ignores Vatican over bishop
30 Apr 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Vatican objects to Chinese bishop
29 Apr 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Underground Chinese bishop 'held'
10 Nov 05 |  Asia-Pacific
China's tense links with the Vatican
08 Apr 05 |  Asia-Pacific
China's Catholics: Far from Rome
24 Dec 03 |  Asia-Pacific


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