|Vatican||CHURCH AGREES TO NOMINATION OF AUTONOMOUS BISHOP|
The Vatican announced last week that it had approved the nomination of Zhao Fengchang, a member of the government recognized "open" Church in China's Shandong province, as bishop of Yanggu.
"In the past, agreement by the Vatican to the nomination of a new bishop was sometimes made public, sometimes not, depending on the more or less limited freedom enjoyed by the Church" in China, the Vatican news agency Fides said on Wednesday.
It noted that Zhao's nomination was the "first in which a bishop chosen with the agreement of the Vatican was consecrated by bishops faithful to the pope."
Fides said the Holy See was pleased with the agreement, which could only foster unity among all Catholics in China.
The Vatican approval of Zhao's consecration on Sunday counters patriotic Church efforts to wield control over all Catholics.
The Vatican said last week on the 50th anniversary of Vatican Radio in China that the Catholic Church could only recognise bishops nominated by the pope, not those named independently by Chinese authorities.
"No human power can hope to change the constitution of the Catholic Church based on Peter," said Cardinal Jozef Tomko, the Vatican's prefect of the congregation for evangelization, in a special anniversary mass.
Until Zhao's nomination, there were 70 bishops recognised by the Chinese authorities against 60 belonging to the "Church of silence" that maintains ties with the Vatican.
In October, the pope is to canonize 120 Chinese martyrs of anti-Catholic persecution during the last four centuries. Beijing has criticized the canonization plans, which coincide with the 51st anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China by Mao Zedong.