A new bishop will be ordained for Beijing this week, but the bishop-elect has not yet received the approval of Pope Benedict XVI.
China’s 59-member Conference of Bishops approved Fr. Joseph Li Shan on Aug. 28 and an ordination ceremony will be held Friday, said Liu Bainian, vice chairman of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association.
Fr. Li succeeds Bishop Fu Tieshan of Beijing, who died in April. Bishop Fu was chairman of the Patriotic Association and became acting chairman of the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China in 2005. He also served on an advisory body to China's legislature, the National People's Congress.
The AP reported that Liu said there had been no contact between China and the Vatican about Fr. Li's appointment "because the two sides have no diplomatic relations."
Fr. Li’s nomination comes just two months after Pope Benedict XVI issued a letter to Chinese Catholics, which underlined the problem of episcopal appointments and regarded the Chinese bishops’ conference as invalid.
However, there has been increasing consultation between Chinese officials and Rome on such appointments, with many bishops named by China later seeking and receiving papal approval.
In July, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, called Fr. Li a "very good, well-suited" candidate. He said then that the Vatican had not been officially informed about Li's appointment but hoped Beijing would seek approval from the Holy See.