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The term is also often used to refer to efforts towards the visible and organic unity of different Christian denominations in some form.

The adjective ecumenical can also be applied to any interdenominational initiative that encourages greater cooperation among Christians and their churches, whether or not the specific aim of that effort is full, visible unity.

Contributors have been chosen for their special knowledge and skill in presenting the subject, and they assume the responsibility for what they have written.

Representing as they do Catholic scholarship in every part of the world, they give the work an international character.

The terms ecumenism and ecumenical come from the Greek The ecumenical vision comprises both the search for the visible unity of the Church (Ephesians 4:3) and the "whole inhabited earth" (Matthew ) as the concern of all Christians.

In Christianity the qualification ecumenical is originally (and still) used in terms such as "ecumenical council" and "Ecumenical Patriarch" in the meaning of pertaining to the totality of the larger Church (such as the Catholic Church or the Orthodox Church) rather than being restricted to one of its constituent local churches or dioceses.

These "Ecumenical Councils" brought together bishops from around the inhabited world (such as, οἰκουμένη) as they knew it at the time.

There were a total of seven ecumenical councils accepted by both Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism held before the Great Schism.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe.

Even the writings of the best intentioned authors are at times disfigured by serious errors on Catholic subjects, which are for the most part due, not to ill-will, but to lack of knowledge.

It would be fatuous to hope to call into immediate existence a Catholic English literature adequate to supply this knowledge and correct errors.

On the other hand, it is not exclusively a church encyclopedia, nor is it limited to the ecclesiastical sciences and the doings of churchmen.

It records all that Catholics have done, not only in behalf of charity and morals, but also for the intellectual and artistic development of mankind.