Pope Francis met privately at the Vatican with the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) today (March 17, 2014) -- the day after pro-Russian voters on the Crimean peninsula voted to secede from Ukraine in a referendum the United States and European Union called illegal -- the Catholic News Service website reports.
While Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych -- head of the UGCC -- declined requests for interviews, it was believed his talk with the pope included a discussion about the fate of the Ukrainian Catholic priests ministering in Crimea.
On March 15, Father Mykola Kvych -- pastor of the Dormition of the Mother of God Parish in Sevastopol -- was taken away from his church in Crimea by two men in uniform and four men in civilian clothing.
Consequently, the UGCC's leadership urged priests in Crimea to evacuate with their wives and children to mainland Ukraine. The priests themselves have all returned to their parishes to be with their faithful in a time of crisis and moral and physical danger.