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Ukrainian Catholics face rising hostility from Russian police, Russian Orthodox

Catholic World News - March 26, 2014

Priests of the Ukrainian Catholic Church are leaving Crimea, and a leading official of the Russian Orthodox has accused Byzantine Catholics of “meddling” in Ukrainian political affairs, as tensions mount between Kiev and Moscow.

Father Mykhailo Milchakovskyi, a Ukrainian Catholic priest, told the Catholic News Service that he had left Crimea after Russian police questioned him about his willingness to accept “the new order” after the Russian seizure of the region. Another Ukrainian priest fled Crimea after he was detained and beaten by police, he reported.

Meanwhile the AsiaNews service reported that Metropolitan Hilarion, the chief external-affairs spokesman of the Moscow Patriarchate, complained that the leader of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, Major Archbishop Svlatoslav Shevchuk, had taken “a very clear position” in the recent political struggles in Ukraine. The Russian prelate charged that Archbishop Shevchuk had sought American intervention in the internal political affairs of Ukraine. (The Ukrainian Catholic leader had asked the US to mediate in the tense and sometimes violent confrontation between the old Ukrainian government and increasingly restive protesters.) Metropolitan Hilarion made similar charges against Patriarch Filaret, the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church- Kiev patriarchate, who broke with Moscow after Ukraine achieved independence.

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