The Vatican has excommunicated Fr. Joseph Huang Bingzhang, a Catholic bishop in Shantou in the southern Guangdong province in China, for being ordained without a papal mandate.

In a statement issued on July 16, two days after the ordination, the Vatican said it does not recognize Huang as bishop and that “he lacks the authority to govern the Catholic community of the diocese.”

Regarding reports that several bishops participated in the ordination under pressure, the Vatican said the Pope “once again deplores the manner in which the Church in China is being treated” and “reaffirms the right of Chinese Catholics to be able to act freely.”

This was the second such excommunication in two weeks. On July 4, the church excommunicated Fr. Paul Lei Shi-yin, who had been ordained a bishop in Leshan, Sichuan on June 29.

The Vatican praised bishops who didn't take part in the ordination, adding that “Equal appreciation is also due to those priests, consecrated persons and members of the faithful who have defended their pastors, accompanying them by their prayers at this difficult time and sharing in their deep suffering.”

Eight Vatican-approved bishops took part in Huang’s ordination on July 14, though Liaoning bishop Pei Junmin left the ceremony.

While in New York recently, Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, the retired bishop of Hong Kong, spoke of the standoff between Beijing and the Vatican as “a war.” On July 13, Zen released to Hong Kong media outlets a letter he wrote to Chinese president Hu Jintao and premier Wen Jiabao in which he asked Beijing to restrain civil servants who violate country’s constitution and help some “scum in the church” force bishops, priests and faithful to act against their consciences.

The Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has also asked the Chinese authorities to stop pressuring bishops who participated in the ordinations.