It is important to have a clear understanding of the meaning of a word before we use it. The word ecumenical is a case in point. Throughout history, until very recently, its meaning was connected to its etymological roots in Greek (oikoumene), in which it means literally “the inhabited (world)”, or more generally “the whole world”, or the whole civilized world—i.e., that part of the world which is encompassed by a common and universally accepted creed and culture. It was in this sense that it was used during the Roman Empire when it signified Roman civilization itself and the administration of it.

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