Efforts to mend China-Vatican rift seem stalled over bishops

The Vatican's efforts to heal a decades-long rift with China appear to have stalled, with each unwilling to accept controversial bishops appointed by the other.

Beijing has appeared to take a harder line toward believers, and has ordered the country's estimated 12 million Catholics to shun foreign influence and to "Sinosize" their Church.

Meanwhile, the Communist Party is again telling members that atheism remains a core value, not to be transgressed.

The developments mark a shift from when Pope Benedict XVI penned a landmark letter to the church in China that was seen as an impetus toward improving ties.

That goal now appears to have bleak prospects, according to priests and people with knowledge of China-Vatican relations. Many spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid damaging relations with either side.