Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk appealed for the release of Fathers Ivan Levytskyi and Bohdan Heleta, who were detained from their parish in Berdyansk in November.
“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,” Archbishop Shevchuk requested.
Fathers Ivan Levytskyi and Bohdan Heleta belong to the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists).
A statement of the Redemptorists in Ukraine reported that Russian soldiers had detained two Redemptorist priests on November 16 in Berdiansk (Ukraine) with the false accusation of storing weapons and explosives.
The statement noted that “some military objects were placed in the church in order to accuse them of the illegal possession of weapons.”
The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church leader appealed 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.”
Archbishop Shevchuk, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, asked for prayer, “And I ask all the faithful of our Church in Ukraine and abroad, all Christians, all people of goodwill, to pray for the salvation of these two priests."
The two Redemptorist priests are serving in The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church (Greek-Catholic church) in Berdyank, a port city in south-eastern Ukraine under Russian control.
The priests decided to remain in the city with the people to continue serving people by providing them with spiritual and humanitarian support and helping refugees and people in need.
The statement of the Redemptorists read, “On 23-24 November, a Russian TV channel “Zviezda” released a snippet of the interrogation of Ivan Levytskyy. There were visible signs of physical and mental exhaustion on the face of the priest.” – With inputs from Vatican News and CSSR News
Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.” Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.