Vatican: Pope blasts 'unacceptable' Chinese bishop appointment

Vatican City - Pope Benedict XVI on Monday denounced the unauthorised appointment of a Catholic bishop in China, attacked it as an act done without "papal mandate and hence illegitimately."

Rev. Paul Lei Shiyin, ordained in 29 June in the diocese of Leshan in China's southwest Sichuan province "has no authority to govern the diocesan Catholic community, and the Holy See does not recognise him as the bishop of the diocese of Leshan," the Vatican said in its sternly worded statement.

"Fr. Lei Shiyin had been informed, for some time, that he was unacceptable to the Holy See as an episcopal candidate for proven and very grave reasons."

The Vatican has been locked in a protracted tit-for-tat with Beijing over China's insistence on overseeing nominations and management of the state-sponsored Church. That runs counter Roman Catholic rules giving the pope final say over all Church decisions.

In 1951, two years after the Communists were victorious in the Chinese Revolution, China forced its Roman Catholics to sever ties with the Vatican.

An estimated one-third of China's 12 million Catholics worship in a clandestine Church that has stayed loyal to the Vatican throughout decades of repression under China's Communist Party.

State-approved clergy have increasingly sought the Vatican's blessing since the easing of restrictions on religion in the 1980s.

"The survival and development of the Church can only take place in union with him to whom the Church herself is entrusted in the first place, and not without his consent as, however, occurred in Leshan," the Vatican said in its latest statement.