VATICAN CITY — China will appoint a Catholic bishop approved by the Vatican today, just days after Pope Benedict XVI condemned the unilateral ordination of two bishops by Beijing, a Catholic news agency reported.
The Rome-based AsiaNews service, which specializes in coverage of China, said Saturday that Father Paul Pei Junmin, 37, would be consecrated in Shenyang. It quoted a Vatican source as saying Pei had the pope's approval and was "an excellent candidate from all points of view."
Vatican and Chinese officials could not be reached immediately for comment on the appointment.
On Thursday, the pope denounced the ordinations of the two bishops without his blessing, branding the move a "grave violation of religious freedom."
Church law prescribes automatic excommunication for the bishop consecrating the new prelate and the priest elevated to bishop without papal approval.
But the Vatican said it was waiting to clarify the circumstances of the two appointments because it had information that the bishops and priests involved had come under "strong pressure and threats."
AsiaNews said the bishop of Shenyang who would preside today, Jin Peixian, had refused to take part in the ordinations opposed by the Vatican.
Beijing and the Vatican severed ties after the Communist Party came to power in 1949 and cracked down on religion.
China has since traditionally refused to let Catholics recognize the authority of the pope, but tacit agreement was frequently reached with the Vatican on the naming of bishops.