Saturday, March 15, 2014, 14:30:
As just reported by Father Lyubomyr Yavors’kyi, deputy head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church’s Department for Pastoral Care to the Civil Authorities of Ukraine, today unidentified armed men seized Father Mykola Kvych, pastor of Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary parish in Sevastopol, right from the church building and drove him off to an unknown destination.
This information was confirmed by several parishioners who were at the Divine Liturgy, and by a telephone conversation with Fr. Mykola’s wife.
More than once during March 2014, priests of the UGCC have received threats, either verbal or in writing, with the demand to leave the territory of the Crimea. But all the pastors decided not to abandon their faithful, especially at such a complicated time.
Besides his duties as a pastor, Father Mykola serves in the Crimea as the head military chaplain of the UGCC. In the opinion of Fr. Yavors’kyi, “This may be the reason for such action taken against him by ‘Crimean self-defense’ forces.”
The location of the missing priest is not yet known. He does not answer calls to his mobile telephone.
[UPDATE:] Father Mykola Kvych was abducted by “law-enforcement organs of the Crimea”. They just now released him [i.e. at approx. 21:40 Saturday, local time, more than seven hours after he was abducted]. In two weeks he will go on trial. The UGCC priest has been charged with administrative wrongdoing. He is suspected of organizing provocations. Father Mykola categorically denies these accusations. He announced that he would continue to remain in the Crimea with his faithful.
Information Department of the UGCC
Translated from Ukrainian by Michael J. Miller. Translator’s notes:
• Sevastopol, on the Black Sea coast of the Crimean Peninsula, is the second largest port in Ukraine.
• Although the Crimea is the region in Ukraine with the highest percentage of Russian-ethnic citizens, approximate 42% of the population is non-Russian (24% Ukrainian, 12% Tatar, 6% other).
• On March 12, His Beatitude Sviatoslav, Head of the UGCC, met with Ukrainian Defense Minister Ihor Tenyukh to assure him that the UGCC will support the Ukrainian armed forces with their prayers and by providing military chaplains.
• The news story about the abducted priest was posted in Ukrainian on FaceBook, and several commented in Ukrainian to confirm the facts. One woman noted that young Fr. Kvych and his wife have four children, and she said she would pray for them. A man named Stanisław (as the Polish spell it) commented in Russian that he and his wife would pray for them too.
• The citizens of the Crimea are scheduled to vote on Sunday, March 16, on whether or not they will secede from Ukraine.
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