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Greek Catholic priest abducted in Crimea

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(Vatican Radio) In a serious escalation of tension in Crimea, a Ukrainian Greek Catholic priest was kidnapped on Saturday in Crimea causing an escalation of the tension in the area. According to Vatican Radio, Father Mykola Kvych, a pastor and a Ukrainian military chaplain, was abducted by pro-Russian forces after celebrating the liturgy.

“Every abduction is a terrible event for everybody involved,” said Bishop Borys Gudziak, the Eparch of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Eparchy. “It’s a gross violation of human rights and God-given human dignity.” He expressed his grave concern about the repercussions of the kidnapping of Father Kvych.

Many Ukrainian Greek Catholic priests have chosen to remain with their people, even though they received oral and written threats earlier this month warning them to leave Crimea.

“Our priests and bishops have been very close to the people,” said Bishop Borys. “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.”

Bishop Berys said they have also been inspired by the words of Pope Francis who said a "pastor needs to have the smell of his sheep". Our pastors have been with the people, and they’re today with the people enduring this occupation in the Crimea.”

With the whereabouts of Father Mykola unknown, Bishop Borys made a special appeal to the authorities of the Russian Orthodox Church, who have in direct or indirect ways supported these moves for the for the occupation of Crimea to do everything in their power to have Father Kvych released and to stop the persecution of Catholic priests and Catholic faithful on this peninsula.