The Vatican on Wednesday said it disapproved of the presence of an excommunicated Chinese bishop at an ordination ceremony, having asked that no "illegitimate" clergy take part.
The ordination of Luo Xuegang in Yibin in Sichuan was approved by both China's official church and the Vatican -- a sign tensions could be thawing after a run of ordinations without papal approval which had irked the Holy See.
But while Holy See spokesman Federico Lombardi said the ordination was "positive", the Vatican was not happy about the presence of bishop Lei Shiyin, who was excommunicated in June after he was ordained without papal approval.
"The participation of the illegitimate bishop... arouses disapproval and bewilderment among the faithful," he said.
The Vatican has been angered by several ordinations carried out by the state-run Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA), the official church, over the past year without papal approval.
The forced participation of a number of bishops at assemblies organised by the CPCA has strained tensions further.
China's Catholics are increasingly caught between showing allegiance to the CPCA or to the pope as part of an "underground" Church considered illegal by Beijing.
While official statistics put the number of Catholics in China at 5.7 million, independent sources say it is closer to 12 million.© ANP/AFP