A U.S.-based religious rights group says the Vatican’s decision to excommunicate a Chinese bishop ordained last week without the pope’s approval is based on Church law.
Joseph Kung is a spokesman for the Cardinal Kung Foundation that advocates the rights of Roman Catholics in China. He told VOA that the Chinese-ordained bishop has no authority to govern the Catholic community without Vatican approval.
China’s state-sanctioned Catholic Church on Thursday ordained Joseph Huang Bingzhang as bishop of Shantou city in southern Guandong province. Kung said this is the third bishop the communist government-approved church has ordained in recent months without Rome’s consent.
The Holy See announced Saturday it would not recognize Huang, and that it already has a bishop in Shantou city.
China’s 5.7 million Catholics are split between those who are loyal to Pope Benedict and those who are members of the church sanctioned by the government. The Vatican has not had diplomatic relations with communist China since 1951.
Kung said relations have improved over the past five years, and that China’s official Catholic Church had refrained during that time from ordaining bishops without Rome’s agreement.
He said there can be no permanent reconciliation between China and the Vatican as long as the Beijing-approved church violates the basic dogma of the Roman Catholic Church.
The Vatican has said it is willing to open talks with Beijing on setting up diplomatic relations.
China says there can be no reconciliation before the Vatican relinquishes its recognition of Taiwan, the self-administered island that China considers part of its domain.