Two Redemptorists, Ivan Levytsky CSsR and Bohdan Heleta CSsR, parish priest and vicar of the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, were arrested by the Russian occupation administration in Berdyansk, west of Mariupol. They were accused of subversive activities against the occupiers, the Donetsk Exarchate of the Greek Catholic Church said in a statement.
The Exarchate’s statement reads, among other things:
In these difficult times for our people, in which we are witnessing numerous painful victims of war, we welcome with great regret and sorrow the news of the unjustified and illegal abduction and imprisonment of two priests of the Donetsk Exarchate of the UGCC in the city of Berdiansk.
These priests are in the place of their priestly ministry on a completely legal basis, carrying out their activities in the local parish for more than three years, proclaiming the Word of God, which is peace for every person.
The appearance of deliberately fabricated false accusations of possession of weapons and explosives in the Russian propaganda space indicates the intention to use further terror against the imprisoned fathers.
We demand the swift release from custody and imprisonment of our priests – Ivan Levytsky and Bohdan Heleta – and the guarantee of their unhindered legal service to the spiritual needs of the UGCC faithful living in Berdyansk.
We appeal to the authorities and all people of goodwill to join the cause of freeing the priests, and we pray for this intention.
Merciful God, hear our prayers!