An outspoken Hong Kong Catholic priest said he has been denied entry into China due to a row between the Vatican and Beijing over the ordination of bishops, reports AFP in the West Australian.
In a sign of escalating tension between the Church and Beijing, China said on Monday the Vatican's recent excommunication of the Chinese bishops who were ordained without papal approval was "unreasonable" and "rude", adds a Reuters report in the newspaper.
Father Franco Mella, who recently took part in protests in Hong Kong against China's unilateral ordination of priests, said Chinese immigration officials did not give him any explanation for cancelling his Chinese visa when he presented himself at a checkpoint in China's southern city of Shenzhen on July 19.
"Perhaps it was due to the ordination of the bishop of Shantou (in southern China). That was not recognised by the Vatican and the bishop was then excommunicated by the Vatican," Mella told Reuters on Tuesday.
Mella, who had intended to visit a church in central Henan province, said this was the first time in 20 years of living in Hong Kong that he had been denied entry into mainland China.
Milan-born Mella, 62, is well known for helping refugees and campaigning for residency rights for mainland Chinese women married to Hong Kong men.
"They didn't say anything. They kept me waiting for an hour, watching TV and then three of them came to show me my passport and the stamp on the visa showed it was canceled," Mella said.
"We are just common priests and we shouldn't bear the confrontation between Beijing and the Vatican," he added.
China bars HK activist priest as Vatican tension (The West Australian/Reuters)
Catholic priest says denied entry to China (The West Australian/AFP)
Screenshot from a Rome Reports video