China's state-backed Patriotic Catholic Association will ordain more bishops without papal approval when "conditions are right," a top leader in the organization said.

Bishop Joseph Guoa Jincai of Chengde, vice-chairman of the group, told the state-run China Daily newspaper that local churches are preparing for the ordinations of bishops in seven dioceses.

He did not provide a schedule for the ordinations, saying preliminary work is "complicated" and involves various parties. Candidates must submit applications to the local commission of religious affairs for approval, while bishops from other dioceses have to coordinate schedules.

Fr. Joseph Huang Bingzhang was illicitly ordained as bishop of Shantou in China's southern Guangdong province on July 14.

In response, the Vatican declared that he incurred an automatic excommunication and lacks authority to govern the diocese.

Vatican expert Sandro Magister said Church authorities have "prudently" indicated that only the newly ordained have definitely incurred excommunication.

"For the consecrating bishops, they are suspending judgment until they ascertain whether they acted freely or under constraint," Magister said in his July 24 column on his website "Chiesa."

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