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LEAD: China ordains bishop despite criticism from H.K. cardinal.

HONG KONG, May 3 Kyodo

(EDS: UPDATING WITH ZEN'S COMMENT IN 5-6 GRAFS)

HONG KONG, May 3 Kyodo - China on Wednesday appointed the second Catholic bishop without Vatican blessing in four days, ignoring strong criticism from Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen.

The state-sanctioned Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association ordained Liu Xinhong as bishop of the Wuhu Catholic church in Anhui Province, without the Vatican's approval.

Association Vice Chairman Liu Bainian said Tuesday that since China and the Vatican lack an official communication channel, China would not wait for Vatican approval of the bishop's ordination. He said the Vatican should approve the ordination for the benefit of the church in China.

The Vatican cut ties with Beijing shortly after the atheist communists took power in 1949. Catholics in the country can only go to state-sanctioned churches while those loyal to the Roman Catholic Church visit underground churches.

Zen, without directly commenting on Liu's ordination, told a TVB news program Wednesday that negotiations between the Vatican and China could not continue now that bishops are installed repeatedly without Vatican's approval.

''(The ordination) has damaged the good faith,'' the outspoken head of Hong Kong's Catholic diocese was quoted as saying. ''This is something to be negotiated, but now it's been settled. What's left to be negotiated? There is no sincerity.''

He issued a statement Tuesday criticizing the ordination of Ma Yinglin as bishop of Kunming in Yunnan Province on Sunday, saying it has ''destroyed the atmosphere of mutual trust'' between the Vatican and China.

Including Ma and Liu, China has ordained three bishops this year. Bishop Xu Honggen of Suzhou in Jiangsu Province, who was ordained last month, was the only one approved by both China and the Vatican.

China has shown a willingness to discuss with the Vatican on restoring ties, but the right to ordain bishops remains a barrier in the negotiations.

The patriotic association's Liu has said there are some 40 dioceses in China lacking bishops, hinting at more bishop ordinations to come, with or without Pope Benedict XVI's blessing.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:May 8, 2006
Words:339
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