Beijing China's state-sanctioned Roman Catholic Church ordained a new bishop Sunday, rejecting the Vatican's request to delay the appointment and threatening efforts to restore official ties between the sides after five decades.
China's Foreign Ministry defended the official church's right to ordain bishops without Vatican input and called the Holy See's criticism of such appointments "groundless."
The ordination could damage recent efforts to restore Sino-Vatican ties, cut in 1951 after the Communist Party took control in China. One of the stumbling blocks in improving relations has long been a dispute over who has the authority to appoint bishops.
China's church - the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Assn. - held a ceremony for the new bishop, Ma Yinglin, in the city of Kunming in southwestern Yunnan province.
Hong Kong Cable TV showed Ma wearing his new bishop's hat and carrying an ornate gold staff as he waved to the faithful.