The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, in a video link with a group of journalists a few days before the first anniversary of the conflict, said: “A blind, absurd and sacrilegious war”.
Archbishop Shevchuk also reports that in all the occupied regions – “17% of the country” – there is not a single priest left: “Neither Greek Catholic nor Latin… Some have been expelled, others imprisoned”, says the archbishop, recalling the two “heroic” Redemptorist fathers, Ivan Levytskyi and Father Bohdan Heleta, arrested on 16 November in Berdyansk and “for a hundred days subjected to daily torture”.
“No negotiations, no diplomacy, have been able to alleviate the pain of these priests”.
It is not known when “this nonsense” in Ukraine will end. “The pain of the people increases every day,” said Shevchuk, who nevertheless said he was “proud” of so many bishops, priests, nuns and monks who “knew how to see Christ in the people wounded by the war. Hungry people, with nothing, who trusted us completely”. “I am moved,” he says, his voice emotional. “Those same bishops and priests are now demoralised: every day, they have to celebrate funerals of victims, military and civilian. Endless funerals… we don’t know what to say anymore, one bishop told me”.
Today,” concludes Shevchuk, “there is a lot of talk about peace proposals. Our government has its own peace formula: the first point is for Ukraine to liberate all occupied territories. Other proposals discuss a compromise, negotiation, ceding some territory, etc. But when I listen to these debates, I feel a shudder. For the Church, it is not about the territories but about the people there. We must liberate the people, our faithful”.
“We pray – this is the final appeal of the head of the Greek Catholic Church – that the Lord will hear the blood that cries out to heaven from the Ukrainian land. We pray that the world will not close its eyes to the wounds and sufferings of the people and that it will not tire of it. Often the Ukrainian pain disappears from the newspapers, and it ceases to be news, as in 2014 with the invasion in Donbas. As the Pope says, the truth is always a victim of war. A war of disinformation. Lies and indifference kill, kill many”.
As reported by Scala News, in November 2022, two Redemptorist priests were arrested by Russian soldiers in Berdiansk (Ukraine). They were falsely accused of storing weapons and explosives.
On 23 and 24 November, the Russian television channel “Zvezda” published an extract from the interrogation of Ivan Levytskyy. There were visible signs of physical and mental exhaustion on the priest’s face.
So far, their location is unknown. We have no contact with them, which indicates that they have been completely cut off from the outside world. This proves that the occupants do not respect the basic human rights rules.
Mary, Mother of God, Mother of Perpetual Help, protect the captives and help them to return home!
(excerpts from the statement of the leadership of the Lviv Province of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, issued on November 26, 2022)