I had no idea that there is a state-controlled Catholic church in China. I guess I should be surprised, but there is a certain cognitive dissonance intrinsic to its very idea.

China cut ties with the Vatican in 1951, shortly after the Communists came to power. Although the wholesale persecution of religion has eased significantly in China, the state still maintains a firm grip on organized religious practice, and it is especially wary of the challenge presented by papal authority.

Today’s NYTimes.com has a story about the Vatican’s public excommunication of newly ordained bishop in China. Turns out that such excommunications are de facto when the Vatican hasn’t approved a bishop for ordination, but the Vatican’s public objection is note worthy.