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China and the Vatican Criticize Each Other over China’s Appointment of Catholic Bishops

Despite the fact that the Vatican objected to China’s appointment of two Catholic bishops, the Chinese Catholic Church held two Catholic bishop appointment ceremonies: on July 6, 2012, for Bishop Qiu Fusheng in Heilongjiang Province and on July 7, 2012, for Bishop Ma Daqing in Shanghai.

The Vatican stated that the appointments were illegal because the Pope did not approve of either of the two bishops. The spokesperson from the Chinese State Administration of Religious Affairs asserted that the Chinese Catholic Association should be treated equally with other churches and that all of their activities are legitimate and effective. Therefore the church organization (the Vatican) should respect them.

The Vatican approved a few bishop appointments in the past; more recently the Vatican has expressed dissatisfaction with the bishops that China has appointed. In July 2011, the Vatican excommunicated Chinese bishop Joseph Huang Bingzhang, who Beijing had appointed without Vatican approval.

According to China’s official statistics, there are 5.7 million Catholic Church believers in China. However, an independent source suggested that the number exceeds 12 million.

Source: BBC Chinese Edition, July 4, 2012