New China-Vatican row brewing over bishops

By the Associated Press | June 23, 2011 | 8:29 AM EDT

BEIJING (AP) — China's state-controlled Catholic church says it will move swiftly to appoint new bishops in a step that is sure to worsen frictions with the Vatican.

The official Xinhua News Agency quotes a spokesman for the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association as saying that filling the more than 40 empty bishop's seats is an urgent task. The vacancies are causing serious problems in the handling of church affairs, Yang Yu was quoted as saying.

China doesn't have any diplomatic ties with the Vatican, and the communist government claims the right to appoint bishops in defiance of the Holy See's insistence that only it has the authority to do so.

Relations nose-dived in November after the Chinese church ordained another bishop without the pope's approval.