China's top religious affairs authority has hit back, for the first time, at the Vatican's protest against Beijing's unilateral appointment of two Catholic bishops, accusing the Holy See of being 'seriously inconsistent' in its wish to improve bilateral relations. The statement by the State Administration on Religious Affairs came as Rome sent a message to congratulate Father Paul Pei Junmin , who will be ordained coadjutor bishop of Shenyang in Liaoning province today with papal endorsement. Father Pei was reminded of his ties to the Holy See which were 'a guarantee of strength and edification'. The message, passed on by AsiaNews, said Rome was praying for his ministry and believed he was an excellent candidate. In Beijing, the state religious affairs body dismissed the Vatican's criticisms and threat to excommunicate the clerics involved as 'without reasons', arguing China had been appointing its own bishops for 50 years. 'On the matter of appointing bishops, there exists a big difference between both sides. For the improvement of Sino-Vatican relations, and with a proactive and pragmatic attitude, the government has proposed to the Vatican to shelve controversies in favour of mutual discussion,' it said. 'Recently, we specifically informed the Vatican about appointments of bishops in some dioceses. Not only has the Vatican all along not given positive responses, it has launched its criticisms after the ordinations took place. This is seriously inconsistent with the Vatican's remarks on its wish to improve Sino-Vatican relations.' The religious affairs authority said the central government was sincere about improving ties and 'willing to start frank and constructive dialogue' with the Holy See, but warned the Vatican against interfering in mainland affairs. Analysts considered the statement important because it was the first time a state authority had commented in detail on the appointments. Pope Benedict's spokesman on Thursday said the ordinations were a 'grave violation of religious liberty' because some clerics were forced to participate. Meanwhile, in response to a report issued on Wednesday by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom which accused Beijing of restricting religious freedom, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said the commission was 'naive and biased' because China had religious freedom.