VATICAN CITY – The Vatican has denounced the decision of a priest in China's underground Catholic Church to ordain himself bishop without the pope's approval.
The statement is an apparent move by the Vatican to defuse tensions with China as negotiations proceed on reaching an overall agreement on such nominations.
The Rev. Dong Guanhua announced his ordination in September and offered to ordain others without the pope's mandate.
On Monday, the Vatican press office said the Holy See hasn't authorized any such ordinations, and if true, they would constitute a "grave" crime in church law.
While saying it had no confirmation of Dong's decision, the Vatican stressed that any such ordination without papal mandate is illegal even when done for "particular personal beliefs."