BEIJING – China's official Catholic church on Wednesday installed a bishop without Vatican approval — the second in three days — as the two sides seek to re-establish ties severed after communists took control of China in 1949.
The Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association ordained Liu Xinhong as bishop at the St. Joseph's Church in the eastern province of Anhui.
A man who answered the phone at the church said the ceremony, which several hundred attended, had been completed. He hung up when asked for his name.
Hong Kong's Cable TV showed Liu, dressed in a yellow robe, bowing his head to receive a yellow head piece from a clergyman.
The footage also showed a procession of people dressed in white and red vestments filing into a gray church, which the station's reporter said was guarded by plainclothes police. The church was decorated with red banners and balloons.
A line of green city buses were parked across the church, and priests and other invited guests were shown stepping out of the vehicles.
The TV reporter said that two large TV screens were set up outside the church for the faithful who couldn't attend the ceremony.
On Sunday, China's state-sanctioned Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association ordained Ma Yinglin as a bishop in the southwestern province of Yunnan.
The installments come as China and the Holy See try to resume diplomatic relations.
Beijing cut ties with the Vatican in 1951 shortly after the Chinese Communist Party took power. Worship in mainland China is allowed only in government-controlled churches, but millions of Chinese Catholics belong to underground churches loyal to the Holy See.
However, the Vatican is allowed to operate in Hong Kong, a former British colony now ruled by China that enjoys religious freedom under its semiautonomous status.
Hong Kong's Cardinal Joseph Zen, who answers to the Holy See and not China's official Catholic church, on Tuesday called on the Vatican to halt talks with Beijing on resuming ties because of the ordainments on the mainland.