Clergy in Crimea defend Ukraine's right to self-determination

Clergy pray next to soldiers

Catholic clergy in Crimea have defended Ukraine's right to self-determination, and a priest in Sevastopol says the families of Catholic troops serving with Ukrainian and Russian forces were 'deeply confused and worried,' reports CNS/NCR.

Jerzy Ziminski, rector of the St Clement, Pope and Martyr Parish in Sevastopol, told Catholic News Service that he had had no contacts with Russian commanders in the city, but said he had been 'treated politely' and allowed through by occupying Russian units when he visited Ukrainian troops in their local barracks.

He criticised ethnic Russians who were staging independence demonstrations in the streets. 'They were sitting here like cowards, like rats under a broom -- but as soon as the Russian army arrived, they went out into the streets,' he said. 'What's the point of being here if you can only live behind a cordon, supported by a foreign army from beyond the Kerch Strait, and only occasionally appearing as an assembled rabble?'

Meanwhile, Bishop Bronislaw Bernacki of Odessa-Simferopol, whose diocese includes the autonomous Republic of Crimea, said Catholics believed 'every nation has a right to decide about its own future,' and were asking Christians worldwide to 'fast and pray for peace'.

'The Catholic Church is deeply concerned about the evolving situation in our country, which is now one step from an open war that may involve a larger area,' Bishop Bernacki told the Italian bishops' conference news service, SIR,  on Monday.

Photo: Orthodox clergymen pray next to armed servicemen near Russian army vehicles outside a Ukrainian border guard post in Ukraine's Crimean region

FULL STORY Catholic clergy in Crimea defend Ukraine's right to self-determination

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