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Last Updated: Sunday, 7 May 2006, 15:45 GMT 16:45 UK
China names new Catholic bishop
Girls do sketches outside the Wangfujing Catholic Church in Beijing
There have been tensions between China's Church and the Vatican
China's state-run Catholic Church has consecrated a new bishop days after the Vatican criticised the appointment of two other bishops without its consent.

Paul Pei Junmin was made an assistant bishop in the city of Shenyang.

The Vatican made no comment, but a Vatican-linked news agency said Pei's consecration had papal approval.

The move comes as Beijing pressed the Vatican to re-establish diplomatic relations, severed more than 50 years ago.

'Excellent candidate'

Hundreds of worshippers gathered for Pei Junmin's consecration in Nanguan Cathedral, in the north-eastern province of Liaoning.

The Chinese government acts in its own interest and so does the Catholic Church
DM, London/Hong Kong

The Rome-based AsiaNews service quoted a Vatican source as saying Pei Junmin had the Pope's approval and was "an excellent candidate from all points of view".

The move comes three days after the Vatican threatened to excommunicate two bishops consecrated by China's official Catholic Church.

Pope Benedict XVI expressed his "deep displeasure" over the appointments, after the Vatican said it was not consulted.

There are an estimated 13 million Catholics in China, of which about 5 million follow the officially tolerated Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, while the remainder support an underground church loyal to Rome.

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

But talks have been taking place in recent months between envoys from both sides.

China has said it would like better relations with the Vatican, but wants the Holy See to first cut its diplomatic links with rival Taiwan.

Diplomatic ties were severed in 1951 after the 1949 Communist takeover in China and subsequent crackdown on religion.

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