New information has surfaced indicating that a Roman Catholic church in Berdyansk, Ukraine has been occupied by Russian forces.

OSV News reported that on April 22, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) disclosed an update from Viktoria Halitsina, the leader of the Ukrainian military administration in Berdyansk. According to Halitsina’s Telegram channel, the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary has been seized. The church functioned not only as a worship space, but also as a support hub for the underprivileged and a location for organ music performances. Since the beginning of the Russian invasion, it has offered shelter and assistance to those in need.

Although the takeover of the church has not been officially confirmed, Forum 18 News Service editor Felix Corley observed that these actions align with Russian operations in Ukraine. It seems the church has been vacant for a while, as its priest, Father Mateusz Godek, is currently located in Pavlohrad, about 180 miles north of Berdyansk.

In November 2022, two Redemptorist priests from the church, Father Bohdan Galeta and Father Ivan Levitskyi, were abducted by Russian militia. Their present status and whereabouts remain uncertain, but Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk has claimed they are being brutally tortured.

The ISW has documented Russia’s persecution of believers from different denominations in Ukraine, targeting religious institutions beyond the reach of Moscow.

Since February 2022, more than 66,000 war crimes have been reported, prompting Ukraine to file genocide charges against Russia in the International Court of Justice.

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