Ukraine: Archbishop Shevchuk appeals for release of arrested priests
By Vatican News
Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, has made a special appeal to international human rights organizations, democratic institutions, and the entire international community to aid in ensuring the release of two priests who were taken from their parish in the city of Berdyansk, west of Mariupol, Ukraine.
The two hieromonks, Fathers Ivan Levytskyi and Bohdan Heleta, were arrested on 16 November, according to a note released on Friday.
The priests, both members of the Redemptorist order, had chosen to stay with their people, even in occupied territories, and were serving both the Greek Catholic and Latin Catholic communities, “to give a ray of hope to those who found themselves under Russian occupation.”
The note indicated that “some military objects were placed in the church in order to accuse them of the illegal possession of weapons.”
Threats and torture
“We have received the sad news that our priests are being tortured without mercy,” the statement lamented.
Further fears were further expressed that “confessions to crimes they did not commit are being extracted from them” and the priests “are daily threatened under torture with death.”
In light of this, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church calls for the “immediate release of the two priests, who have no fault other than that of loving their people, their Church, the community entrusted to them.”
“I appeal to diplomatic representatives and to international human rights organizations, asking them to do everything possible to save the lives of these heroic pastors! And I ask all the faithful of our Church in Ukraine and abroad, all Christians, all people of good will, to pray for the salvation of these two priests."
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