BEIJING (AP) — Vatican media say a Chinese bishop has been ordained in a southwestern diocese with approval from both Beijing and Rome, a sign that the Sino-Vatican relationship may be improving.

Online news site Vatican Insider reported that Joseph Chen Gong’ao was ordained Thursday in a ceremony attended by 800 as the bishop of Nanchong diocese in Sichuan province. A report by local newspaper Nanchong Daily corroborates the information.

Vatican Insider said the diocese was without a bishop for eight years and about 40 Chinese dioceses have no bishops.

The relationship between Beijing and Rome has been tense since 1951, when China severed ties with the Holy See after the Communist Party took power and set up its own church outside the pope’s authority.