The world's cardinals met Friday at the Vatican to discuss religious freedom, sex abuse by clergy and other issues amid a new dispute with China over an illicit ordination that threatens delicate relations between the two.
Pope Benedict XVI summoned the cardinals for a day of reflection before a ceremony Saturday to create 24 new cardinals. The top agenda item, religious freedom, was remarkably timely given China's planned ordination Saturday of a bishop who doesn't have the pope's approval, The Associated Press says.
Liu Bainian, vice chairman for China's state-backed church, the Catholic Patriotic Association, said Friday the ordination was going ahead but that the presence of other bishops at the ceremony was voluntary.
As he arrived Friday for the Vatican meeting, Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen, an outspoken advocate of democracy and religious freedom in China, sharply rebuked China for proceeding with the ordination, NPR reports.
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