Fr. Laschuk explained that while Metropolitan Filaret had originally been appointed by the Patriarch of Moscow, he was excommunicated by the Russian Church in 1997.
"When Ukraine gained political independence from Russia, they wanted ecclesial independence also. The Ukrainian Church declared themselves independent. It was a political anathema related to authority, not a theological question."
By restoring communion with Filaret, Bartholomew has essentially reasserted his position at the center of the global Orthodox Church, pointedly nullifying the previous Russian anathema.
"The fact of restoring Metropolitan Filaret to the communion of the Church, as he had been deposed and anathematized by the Moscow Patriarchate, is critical," Lashcuk told CNA.
"It emphasizes the Ecumenical Patriarch's role as arbitrator, it restores millions of Orthodox Christians in Ukraine to the communion of the larger Orthodox community, and it will certainly be seen as a huge insult to Moscow."
Independence for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has been a fiercely contested subject between the Patriarchs of Moscow and Constantinople, with the Russian Church insisting on its traditional - and politically enforced - authority in the country.
In recent months, tensions have escalated between the two leaders.
In September, the Patriarch of Constantinople sent two personal envoys to the Ukraine, where they met with both government and church leaders in preparation for the creation of an independent Ukrainian Patriarchate. Both Archbishop Daniel of Pamphilon and Bishop Hilarion of Edmonton were present during the recent synod meeting.
Following the arrival of the two bishop-envoies in Ukraine, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow announced last month that he would no longer mention Bartholomew in official prayers, or celebrate liturgies together with him.
Thursday's announcement contained further direct measures against Moscow's traditional influence in Ukrainian ecclesiastical affairs. In addition to confirming the formation of an independent Ukrainian Church and returning Filaret to the Orthodox fold, Bartholomew revoked a canonical letter, first issued in 1686, granting the Russian Patriarch the right to ordain the Metropolitan of Kyiv.
"Basically, Bartholomew has firmly stated that Ukraine is in Constantinople's canonical territory, and has removed the Metropolis of Kyiv from the Patriarchate of Moscow's authority," Lashcuk said.
(Story continues below)
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He told CNA that the decision by Constantinople to assert itself would likely provoke real fallout, but that it appeared to be a principled decision.
"I think the Ecumenical Patriarch has decided to do what he thinks is right, regardless of the politics involved, including a large Church that is completely codependent on its authoritarian state."