Three abducted priests in Crimea returned safely
A Divine Liturgy of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church celebrated during protests in Kyiv in February. Credit: Jakub Szymczuk/GOSC NIEDZIELNY. Courtesy of Aid to the Church in Need.
A Divine Liturgy of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church celebrated during protests in Kyiv in February. Credit: Jakub Szymczuk/GOSC NIEDZIELNY. Courtesy of Aid to the Church in Need.

.- Three priests of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church who were kidnapped in Crimea over the weekend have reportedly been returned and are safe.

“We have just spoken with Fr. Nicholas Kvych, pastor of the UGCC in Sevastopol. With the help of his parishioners he was able to leave Crimea, and he is now on mainland Ukraine,” the information service of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church said in a statement released late in the day, March 16, according to Radio Svoboda.

Fr. Kvych had been kidnapped this weekend by pro-Russian forces, as had Fr. Bohdan Kosteskiy, from Yevpatoria, and Fr. Ihor Gabryliv, from Yalta. Fr. Kvych, a navy chaplain, had been abducted twice: initially on March 15, he was released once, briefly, before being detained again.

After his escape to mainland Ukraine, Fr. Kvych telephoned Fr. Ihor Yatsiv, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church's information service, telling him that Fr. Kosteskiy and Fr. Gabryliv were also safe, without being able to discuss their location.

Priests in Crimea of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church has received numerous oral and written threats in recent weeks, as military tensions have escalated on the peninsula; several were warned to leave Crimea, yet have remained with their flock.

“Our priests and bishops have been very close to the people,” said Bishop Borys Gudziak of the Ukrainian Eparchy of St. Vladimir-Le-Grand of Parish, according to Vatican Radio. “We’ve been inspired by the example of Our Lord (who) went a long distance from fellowship with the Father to incarnate himself and be in our reality.”

The Church's priests in Crimea have been inspired by Pope Francis, “who said a pastor needs to have the smell of his sheep. And our pastors have been with the people, and they’re today with the people enduring this occupation in the Crimea,” Bishop Gudziak noted.

“Every abduction is a terrible event for everybody involved,” the bishop stated, emphasizing that “it’s a gross violation of human rights and God-given human dignity.”

The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church has been expanding in Crimea recently. A new exarchate was established for the peninsula Feb. 13, after the Archiepiscopal Exarchate of Odesa-Krym was split in two. The Crimean exarchate is based in the territory's capital, Simferopol.

Crimea is a southern peninsula of Ukraine where nearly 60 percent of the population are ethnic Russians, and more than 50 percent of the population speak Russian as their first language. The territory was transferred from Russia to Ukraine in 1954 under the Soviet Union.

A referendum was held in the territory March 16 regarding union with Russia. Local officials report that with half the votes counted, 95.5 percent favor joining Russia.

The referendum was condemned as illegal by Western nations and the government in Kyiv, but is supported by Moscow.

The vote was boycotted by Tatars, the indigenous ethnic group of Crimea who make up roughly 12 percent of the population. Many Tatars were deported to Central Asia under the Soviet Union, and many want to remain Ukrainian rather than becoming Russian.

Despite condemnation from authorities in Kyiv, Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said Friday that Moscow would “respect the will of the people of Crimea.”

Current tensions in Crimea follow four months of protests in Ukraine which culminated in its president fleeing the country for Russia Feb. 21. Two days later, parliament appointed Oleksander Turchynov acting president.

Beginning Feb. 27, pro-Russian forces began taking control of Crimea, including its airports, parliament, and telecommunications and television centers.

Tags: Crimea, Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

The renewal of the Legionaries of Christ
The renewal of the Legionaries of Christ
Presentation of the book "The Pastor"
Synod on the Family October 2014
Preferential option for the poor
God is alive, even in sport
'A forbidden God' named Best Film at the International Catholic Film Festival
Vatican backs a 'Pause for Peace' during World Cup final
The effects of religious violence in Sarajevo 
The origin of Corpus Christi 
Corpus Christi at the Vatican 
Homage to an Indian Cardinal
Train of the Child's Light
New book explaining gestures of the Mass
Encounter between Pope Francis and the Charismatic Renewal in the Spirit Movement.
Religious tensions subside amid Balkan floods
John Paul II Center for Studies on Marriage and Family
Saint John Paul II on cartoon
Syrian Christian refugees
Papal Foundation Pilgrimage
Exorcism or prayer of liberation?

Liturgical Calendar

July 23, 2014

Wednesday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 13:1-9


Daily Readings

First Reading:: Jer 1:1, 4-10
Gospel:: Mt 13: 1-9

Saint of the Day

St. John Cassian »


Homily of the Day

Mt 13:1-9


Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
Text only

Follow us: