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Ecumenical

The word ecumenical comes from a Greek word that means pertaining to the whole world. In Christianity it means pertaining to the whole Christian church, and describes the pursuit of unity in the Christian world, between Christian denominations, and the universality of the Church.

In the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches an ecumenical council is a council of nearly all bishops of the whole church, capable of infallible decisions on theological questions. Catholics construe "the whole church" as including only Catholics. Eastern Orthodoxy construes it as including both the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic churches, including all Eastern Orthodox patriarchs and the Roman pope. Consequently, Eastern Orthodoxy does not recognize the infallibility or ecumenicity of any council that has met since the two churches separated from each other in the 11th century.

See also Ecumenism.



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