Vatican excommunicates Chinese bishop as 'war' declared
THE Vatican has excommunicated a Chinese bishop who was appointed without its authority and condemned the country's communist leadership for forcing four bishops loyal to Rome to attend his ordination.
The appointment of Joseph Huang Bingzhang as Bishop of Shantou last week prompted one of the most senior Chinese prelates to declare "war" bet-ween Beijing and the Holy See.
The Vatican and the Chinese Communist Party are engaged in an increasingly bitter battle for control over the growing number of Roman Catholics in China.
While about six million Chinese are members of the official, state-run church, it is estimated another eight million worship in underground churches loyal to the Pope. In the past nine months, Beijing has defied the Vatican by appointing three bishops without its approval.
Fr Huang's appointment last week went ahead despite the fact that Shantou already has a bishop. Shantou's existing bishop was ordained by the Vatican in 2006 without the approval of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, the government organisation that oversees state-run churches.
China's leading Catholic priest attacked the policy of illegal ordinations and called on the Holy See to react strongly.
"At the moment, it's a war," said Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun.
The Vatican said Beijing authorities should not coerce those loyal to the Pope. It said Catholics in China had the right to act freely. (© Daily Telegraph, London)