VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican said on Saturday that a Chinese bishop ordained without papal approval has been excommunicated from the Catholic Church, bringing relations between the Vatican and Beijing to a new low.
In a statement condemning Thursday's ordination as illegitimate, the Vatican also said Pope Benedict "deplores" the way communist authorities are treating Chinese Catholics who want to remain faithful to Rome instead of to the state-backed Church.
China's state-sanctioned Catholic Church ordained Joseph Huang Bingzhang as bishop in Shantou city in southern Guangdong province on Thursday despite warnings he would not be recognized because the city has a Vatican-approved bishop.
"Consequently, the Holy See does not recognize him ... and he lacks authority to govern the Catholic community of diocese," the Vatican said.
Chinese Catholics are divided between those who are members of the Church backed by the communist party and those who are loyal to the Pope.
In its statement, the Vatican said Beijing authorities had coerced some bishops loyal to the Holy See to attend the ordination service against their will and praised them for trying to resist.
It said Catholics in China had the right to act freely and remain loyal to the pope.
"The Holy Father, having learned of these events, once again deplores the manner in which the Church in China is being treated and hopes that the present difficulties can be overcome as soon as possible," it said.