The new Catholic bishop of Beijing was a 'very good' candidate, a senior Vatican official said, even though he had not been selected by the Pope, in what is seen as further evidence of Rome's efforts to reach a compromise with mainland authorities over the nomination of bishops. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, said the Vatican still had not received word from Beijing about the naming of Bishop Joseph Li Shan , who was selected by a group of mainland priests, nuns and lay people this week. 'Normally, they enter into contact with the Holy See ... and ask approval. We hope this occurs,' Cardinal Bertone said on Wednesday. But he said Father Li was a 'very good, well-suited' candidate for the job. 'So this seems to us a positive sign,' he said. Pope Benedict has been trying to reconcile the divisions between the official and unofficial Catholic churches on the mainland and released a letter to all Chinese Catholics on June 30 in a bid to unite them. In it, he praised the underground faithful but urged them to reconcile with followers in the official church. At the same time, he called the government-sanctioned Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association 'incompatible' with Catholic doctrine. The Beijing appointment had been closely watched as an early indication of Beijing's reaction to the Pope's letter. The appointment of bishops has been the main stumbling block in resuming ties because Beijing views papal appointments as interference in its internal affairs. The Pope did not explicitly insist on that right in his letter, taking a more conciliatory approach by saying merely that the Vatican 'would desire to be completely free to appoint bishops'. The Vatican would like to have a formula similar to the one it has with Vietnam, where it proposes names and the government selects one. Cardinal Bertone said the fact that Beijing was carefully studying the letter was a 'very positive sign'.