May 4, 2006

China defends bishop appointments

BEIJING (Reuters) - China defended on Thursday its decision
to appoint two Catholic bishops without the Pope's blessing,
saying they were adhering to the wishes of a majority of

Asked to comment on Pope Benedict's condemnation of the two
appointments, China's Foreign Ministry issued its standard
statement that the appointments strictly followed democratic
processes and fully respected the wishes of a majority of

"So the Vatican's condemnation makes no sense," the
ministry said in a statement.

"We hold a sincere attitude toward improving Sino-Vatican
relations and have made active efforts. We hope the Vatican
side can support a good environment for improvement of the

Pope Benedict said on Thursday China's appointment of two
Catholic bishops without the approval of the Vatican
represented a "grave violation of religious freedom."

"The Holy Father learned the news with deep displeasure,"
the Vatican said in an unusually strongly worded statement.

The Vatican said it had received information bishops and
priests in China had come under "strong pressure and threats"
to take part in the ordinations.