From AP via the USA Today (link):
Vatican officials cited church law that called for automatic excommunication in condemning China for appointing bishops without papal consent, but legal experts said Friday that the appointees may be spared formal censure because they may have been pressured.
The Vatican said Thursday that the consecration of two bishops this week in China carried with them the automatic penalty of excommunication for the two men as well as the bishops who ordained them because Pope Benedict XVI hadn’t approved the appointments.
While Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls didn’t use the word “excommunication” in his statement Thursday, he cited Article 1382 of the Code of Canon Law, which says both the newly ordained bishop and the bishop who consecrates him without papal consent incur a “latae sententiae excommunication” – automatic excommunication.
However, canon law experts said that in order for the excommunication to have actual effect, it must be formally declared by the pope, and that that requires a process that could take into account several factors.