On 11 October 2018, the Ecumenical Patriarchate issued a five-point decision of its Holy Synod. Regardless of what one thinks of the underlying merits or legitimacy of the EP’s decision, the five points raise some significant questions. What follows is not an exhaustive list.
What is the “Church of Ukraine” to which autocephaly is to be granted?
What is the status of Filaret Denisenko? The EP decision says that he has been “canonically reinstated” to his “hierarchical or priestly rank.” Is he a Patriarch, as he claims to be? Is he a Metropolitan, which he was at the time he was deposed? If he is a bishop, what is his see? Is he Metropolitan of Kyiv again?
What is the status of Makariy Maletych? Again, the decision says that he has been “canonically reinstated” to his “hierarchical or priestly rank.” At the time he was deposed, he was only a priest. Does this mean that he is not a bishop, as he claims to be? What is the status of the priests ordained by him?
Are these reinstatements retroactive, or do they apply only from 11 October on?
What is the status of their church structures? Are they now dioceses of the Ecumenical Patriarchate?
Whom are Filaret and Makariy commemorating in the Divine Liturgy? How is this being done?
The EP decision states that only Filaret and Makariy have been reinstated, and that “their faithful have been restored to communion with the Church.” What is the status of their bishops and priests?
What is the process of appeal that the EP employed? Is this a case where both sides in a case present evidence?
Did the EP revoke its 1992 decision to confirm the deposition of Filaret by the Moscow Patriarchate, and its 1997 decision to confirm his excommunication?
The EP says that it has “revoked the legal binding of the Synodal Letter of the year 1686.” Is this revocation retroactive, or does it only apply from 11 October on?
Does this apply to all of the territory of the modern state of Ukraine, or only to the territory of the Metropolis of Kyiv in 1686?
What is the status of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, led by Metropolitan Onufry, that has been (until now) the only church body in Ukraine recognized as canonical by the Orthodox Churches?
Who is the Metropolitan of Kyiv?
What is the status of Metropolitan Onufry? Is he no longer Metropolitan of Kyiv?
These questions are not rhetorical — we truly do seek answers and clarity. Given how momentous the EP’s decision is, and the far-reaching implications it has on global Orthodox unity, it is surprisingly vague. All of Orthodoxy — both critics and supporters of the EP — needs clarification as soon as possible.