China's state-controlled Catholic church says it wants to quickly ordain at least 40 bishops, a move likely to further aggravate tensions with the Vatican.
The official Xinhua news agency quoted Yang Yu, spokesman for the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, as saying more than 40 of the country's 97 dioceses were without a bishop.
The report said Church leaders agreed at a recent meeting that the church would strive to select and ordain bishops at those diocese without delay.
Tensions between Beijing and the Vatican have been high since an official church gathering in December which, the Vatican says, bishops and priests were forced to attend. The Vatican also protested the ordination of a bishop in Chengde in November without its approval.
Pope Benedict said last month that he hopes the bishops' loyalty to the Vatican will prove stronger than the temptation to give in to Chinese authorities.
China's officially-sanctioned Catholic Church, has between five and six million members, while an underground church loyal to Rome with has many as 10 million followers
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