A senior official in China's state-sanctioned Catholic church yesterday confirmed Beijing church leaders had selected a new bishop but said the candidate still requires the approval of the country's other 59 bishops.
Liu Bainian (劉柏年), vice chairman of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, said the Monday election of the Reverend Joseph Li Shan involved priests, nuns and lay people from the capital city's 15 parishes.
"There were no outsiders involved in the vote," Liu said, dismissing concerns that the Patriotic Association or other state-linked bodies orchestrated Li's selection.
The Patriotic Association is understood to oversee the appointment of all of China's bishops and a Tuesday report by the Bangkok-based Union of Catholic Asian News cited unidentified church sources as saying "government officials had earlier lobbied all priests to ensure that Father Li would be elected."
The Vatican says only it has the right to name Bishops and the question of their appointment has been the main stumbling block in resuming relations between Beijing and the Vatican.
China views papal appointments as interference in its internal affairs and forced its Roman Catholics to cut ties with the Vatican in 1951, shortly after the officially atheist Communist Party took power.
However, there has been growing consultation between the official church and Rome on appointments, with many bishops named by China later seeking papal approval.
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