Cardinal's action mars Sino-Vatican ties, says mainland church leader A leader of the mainland's official Catholic church has hit out at Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun for marching in Sunday's democracy rally, saying his participation would not help Sino-Vatican relations. Liu Bainian , a deputy chairman of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, said the Vatican would not win Beijing's trust if it supported clerics such as Cardinal Zen, whose actions were not conducive to Hong Kong's stability. Cardinal Zen's behaviour had caused concern among some 'public figures' - mostly from the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference - about the consequences of having mainland bishops appointed by the Holy See, Mr Liu said. His criticism came a day after the head of Hong Kong's Catholic diocese led tens of thousands of people in the annual march. It also came two days after Pope Benedict sent a letter to China's Catholics, a move intended to improve troubled relations between the Vatican and Beijing. Cardinal Zen's participation was seen as particularly significant as it was the first time he had joined a July 1 rally and it was taking place on the 10th anniversary of the handover. 'I received a lot of phone calls [on Sunday] and some asked why someone from the Catholic Church would take to the streets when everybody in China and Hong Kong was celebrating the handover,' Mr Liu said. 'They said that if bishops in China were appointed by the Vatican, China's Catholic Church would be over, and they would not agree to let this happen. 'If all Catholics in Hong Kong followed suit [by demonstrating], how can Hong Kong achieve stability? If the Vatican supports someone like him, how can it win China's trust?' Cardinal Zen could not be reached for comment last night. The authority to appoint bishops on the mainland has been a major stumbling block in the normalisation of Sino-Vatican relations, severed in 1951. The official church has been appointing Beijing-approved bishops without the Vatican's consent since 1958, despite severe opposition from the Holy See. In a 28-page letter released on Saturday, the Pope underlined his power to appoint mainland bishops and expressed hope of reaching an agreement with Beijing over an appointment mechanism. Mr Liu has said the mainland's insistence on appointing bishops was to avoid the Vatican choosing clerics opposed to the Communist Party. His comment came as Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, told Agence France-Presse that the Pope was not seeking a confrontation with China and had made no accusations against Beijing in his letter. Without directly naming the patriotic association, the Pope accused 'state agencies' of causing 'division' among the clergy and faithful, sowing suspicions with the church. Describing the letter as constructive and helpful, Mr Liu said the Pope had been misled by some parties - such as underground congregations and Church organisations in other countries and Hong Kong - to make 'unfair' and 'inaccurate' remarks about the patriotic association.