The pontifical foundation
Aid to the Church in Need
two priests serving in the city of Berdyansk
, in southeastern
, occupied by Russia since February 2022, were arrested. The Redemptorist Fathers, detained by Russian militias, provided pastoral assistance to the Greek-Catholic and Latin-rite Catholic parishes and are among the few remaining in the occupied territories.
According to Msgr.
Stepan Meniok, bishop of the Exarchate of Donetsk,
the detention is "unfounded and illegal".
, parish priest of the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary in the city of Berdyansk, and
Father Bohdan Heleta
, chaplain of the same church, were reportedly imprisoned in a pre-trial detention center in
by the Russian administration on charges of "
preparing a terrorist act
The press release denounces that the accusation of
possession of weapons and explosives
by the priests "is false" and adds that it was "a maneuver organized for propaganda purposes".
"The priests have been in the priestly ministry for more than three years and legitimately carry out their pastoral activity in the local parish, announcing a message of peace for everyone - explains Msgr. Stepan Meniok - At the time of the search of the church, rectory and technical premises of the parish, both priests were already in custody, which means that they no longer had any kind of control over the structures, nor over the actions of the Rosguard", the Russian National Guard, underlines the prelate in his communication.
Acs follows "these sad events with great concern, given the repeated reports of the contempt of the fundamental principles of human rights by the Russian special services, i.e. those who arrested the religious".
"We ask that the information be widely disseminated, in order to free the detained chaplains. We appeal to the authorities and to all people of good will to join the cause of the release of priests, as well as to increase prayer", concludes the bishop of '
"The position of the Holy See is to seek peace and to seek understanding" between the parties,
"the diplomacy of the Holy See is moving in this direction and, obviously, is always willing to mediate",
Pope Francis said during the day an interview with the Jesuit magazine America.
"I even thought about going on a trip, but I made the decision: if I travel, I'm going to Moscow and Kiev, both, not just one place."
"Why don't I name Putin? Because it's not necessary, sometimes people get attached to a detail. Everyone knows my position", the Pontiff reiterated.
"It is known who I am condemning. It is not necessary for me to put my name and surname", he however explained. "When I speak of Ukraine, I speak of a martyred people. If you have a martyred people, you have someone who martyrs them
"It is known who I am condemning. It is not necessary for me to put my name and surname", he however explained.
"When I speak of Ukraine, I speak of a martyred people. If you have a martyred people, you have someone who martyrs them
- the Pope underlined -. When I speak of Ukraine, I speak of cruelty because I have a lot of information on the cruelty of the troops entering . In general, the cruellest ones are perhaps those who are from Russia but are not from the Russian tradition, such as Chechens, Buryats and so on. Of course, the one who invades is the Russian state. This is very clear. Sometimes I try not to specify so as not to offend and rather to condemn in general, even if it is known who I am condemning.
It is not necessary that I put my name and surname"
Bergoglio also confirms that he is mediating between Ukraine and Russia for the release of prisoners.
"I generally work with receiving lists of prisoners, both civilian prisoners and military prisoners, and have them sent to the Russian government, and the response has always been very positive
," he said.
When asked about the Holy See's offer of mediation, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov replied: "We know that a number of statesmen and foreign countries declare themselves ready to help and, of course,
we welcome such political will. But in the situation we now have de facto and de jure from Ukraine, such interventions cannot be requested".