China bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin stripped of title

Students at National Catholic Seminary, Beijing China's Catholics are split between followers of the Vatican and those of the state-run Catholic Church

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China's state-run Catholic Church has stripped a bishop of his title, five months after he announced he was quitting the Church's oversight body.

Thaddeus Ma Daqin, an auxiliary bishop in Shanghai, announced his resignation from China's Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA) after his ordination in July.

Reports at the time said he had been detained in a seminary near Shanghai.

There has been longstanding tension between Beijing and the Vatican.

Rome, which approved the appointment of Bishop Ma, does not recognise the CPCA, which in turn rejects the Pope's authority. Both claim the exclusive right to appoint bishops.

Correspondents say the bishop's declaration that he intended to resign from the CPCA sent shock waves through the official hierarchy, as it was seen as a challenge to Chinese state control over Catholic churches and clergy.

China's estimated 10 million Catholics are split between followers of the Pope and the CPCA.

China broke off diplomatic relations with the Vatican in 1951, but in recent years tensions between Beijing and Rome had eased somewhat, with the occasional visit by a senior Vatican cardinal.

Relations suffered a setback in 2010 with the consecration of the first Chinese bishop for almost five years without the approval of Rome.

In July, the Chinese authorities ordained a bishop in the northern city of Harbin without the approval of the Vatican.

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