VATICAN CITY, Nov. 19 (UPI) -- Pope Benedict XVI has convened a rare meeting of more than 100 cardinals from around the world for discussions of church policy, the Vatican says.
This is the third consistory -- assembly of cardinals -- he has called in his tenure, which began in 2005.
Pope Benedict has been attempting to create more opportunities for the cardinals to discuss important issues, the BBC reported.
Among the issues to be discussed are religious freedoms for Christians, following a recent increase in attacks on Christians in Iraq, and a dispute with China over ordination of bishops without papal approval.
A Chinese bishop, the Rev. Guo Jincai, is scheduled to be ordained in Hebei province Saturday.
Guo is a member of the state-backed church that does not recognize the pope.
Reports that bishops loyal to Pope Benedict are being forced to attend the ceremony are disturbing, the Vatican says.
"If these reports are true, then the Holy See would consider such actions as grave violations of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience," Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said.
The consistory will be followed by the elevation of 24 new cardinals by Pope Benedict at a ceremony on Saturday, the BBC reported.