The Chinese Catholic Church has ordained a third bishop within the past eight months Thursday; again without the authorization of the Vatican.
The development may further strain relations between the Beijing Catholic Church and the Holy See.
Rev. Joseph Huang Binzhang, the newly appointed Bishop of Shantou, participated in a public ordination ceremony with 1,000 people in attendance on Thursday, according to Reuters. However, the ordination and ceremony have intensified already-stressed relations between the Vatican and Beijing’s church leaders.
The Vatican has appealed to Chinese church leaders to give the Pope sole authority to appoint bishops. However, Chinese leaders have not responded positively, and are keen to avoid foreign intrusion in their churches.
Two types of Catholic Church currently exist in China; one is state-sanctioned, and the other operates underground; between the two there are thought to be a combined total of approximately 8 to 12 million Catholics active in China.
In 1951, Beijing broke away from the Holy See when the Communist Party created its own Catholic Church where the pope was not the leading authority.
Although the state-sanctioned Beijing Catholic Church believes the pope is a spiritual leader, they do not believe he should appoint their bishops. However, the cities of Hong Kong and Macau still recognize the Roman Catholic Church as their authority.
Rev. Federico Lombardi told reporters that China's ordinations are causing “pain and concern” at the Vatican.
"The position and feelings of the Holy See and the pope have already been expressed in previous recent circumstances," Lombardi said, according to AP.
The Holy See, the Pope’s episcopal jurisdiction for the Catholic Church in Rome, believes relations with China will only continue to get worse.
“With this insistence to ordain them, we have to react," a source close to the Vatican told the news source.
The source said that some bishops have already been excommunicated from the Catholic Church, and that it would continue to happen if proper authorization for the ordination of bishops is not granted.