The State Administration for Religious Affairs on Wednesday urged the Vatican to rescind its threats to excommunicate two Chinese bishops, who are to be consecrated without papal approval, and return to the "correct path of dialogue."
The threats of excommunication are "extremely unreasonable and rude," a spokesperson said in a statement.
Yue Fusheng and Ma Daqin will be consecrated on Friday and Saturday in Heilongjiang Province and Shanghai, respectively.
The Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association was forced to begin to consecrate elected bishops in the 1950s after the Vatican threatened to impose excommunication.
The association has so far consecrated more than 190 elected bishops, which has helped to guarantee and promote the healthy development of Chinese Catholic churches, according to the spokesperson.
Continuing the practice of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association consecrating elected bishops is necessary to spread the word of Catholicism in China, as there have been no bishops in several of the country's dioceses for some time, the spokesperson said.
The practice is also the strong aspiration of the majority of priests and believers and a manifestation of religious freedom, according to the spokesperson.
"Any repudiation or interference with this religious practice is a restriction of freedom and an intolerant act. It is detrimental to the healthy development of Catholic churches in both China and the world," the spokesperson said.
The Chinese government is willing to discuss any issue, including the consecration of bishops, with the Vatican, but the government will continue to support the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association in independently selecting and consecrating its bishops before the two sides reach a consensus, the spokesperson said.