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Vatican rejects Chinese bishop's ordination

Reuters

The Vatican on Monday rejected as illegitimate the ordination last month of a priest as bishop by China's state-run Catholic Church.

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Paul Lei Shiyin was ordained as bishop on 29 June in a move the Holy See said was divisive and which looked set to dampen recently improved ties between the Vatican and China's Communist Party.

The Catholic Asia News website reported last week that the ordination took place in south-west China's Sichuan province.

China and the Vatican have not had formal diplomatic ties since 1951.

The Holy See angered Mao Zedong's communist government by recognising the nationalist regime in Taiwan as China's legitimate government.

Ties have improved slightly in recent years as China's Catholic population has grown.

In 2007, the Vatican asked Beijing to guarantee religious freedom and called for reconciliation, hinting it would consider severing ties with Taiwan.

Pending that decision, China's 5.7 million Catholics are caught between staying loyal to the ruling Communist Party or showing allegiance to the Pope as part of an underground Church that is not recognised by the authorities in Beijing.

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