Not wanting to get into the contentions C v P argument that I had no idea existed until today, but for our Ecumenical Council tag, https://christianity.stackexchange.com/tags/ecumenical-council/info says "7 Councils", by my count there have been 21 of them (that link in missing Vatican II since it's from the Old Catholic Encyclopedia).

But for the purposes of this site, what is just the first bunch or every one of 'em?

  • Perhaps there is something to be learned about the state of the (assumed) Body of Christ if there is not even agreement (amongst 'ecumenicals') as to which 'Ecumenical Councils' are really 'ecumenical'.
    – Nigel J
    Jun 19 '20 at 10:13

Wikipedia seems to explain it pretty well:

The Church of the East (accused by others of adhering to Nestorianism) accepts as ecumenical only the first two councils. Oriental Orthodox Churches accept the first three.[4] Both the Eastern Orthodox Church and Catholic Church recognise as ecumenical the first seven councils, held from the 4th to the 9th centuries. While the Eastern Orthodox Church accepts no later council or synod as ecumenical, the Catholic Church continues to hold general councils of the bishops in full communion with the Pope, reckoning them as ecumenical. In all, the Catholic Church recognises twenty-one councils as ecumenical. Anglicans and confessional Protestants accept either the first seven or the first four as ecumenical councils.

It seems very disingenuous to me for the Catholic Church to call councils which no other branch of Christianity accepts "ecumenical".

So what to do about the tag? I think we should do a few things:


Realizing that different denominations define "ecumenical council" differently, why not go to the original meaning of "ecumenical": general, universal, from the whole world, etc. In addition, almost all denominations have by now accepted the first seven ecumenical councils, except for the Church of the East who still don't accept any after the third (Ephesus).

Therefore using the current tag definition of has linguistic, historical, and de facto broad-based theological support.

I recommend that for other councils we use another tag such as for the 8th-21st Catholic ecumenical councils, which can also be used for Catholic 1st to 7th ecumenical councils. The tag relationship is then similar to and , the former being a subset of the latter.

For questions about the nature of an ecumenical council, I vote for @curiousdannii's suggestion of coupled with a clear tag description.


Questions with the tag should only be about the nature of what constitutes an ecumenical council, not the proceedings of any one council, so if there's a question about Vatican II, the Council of Trent, Ephesus, etc... These should not have the tag , just the tag for the particular council that is asked about.

This will allow any denomination to ask questions about doctrine from whatever they believe an ecumenical council constitutes without muddying the waters when searching for the tag.

We've done similar things with the , etc...

  • I think I'd prefer "church-council" because it would more naturally include things like the Savoy Council which I really doubt is ever called an "ecumenical" council (even if it would qualify under some definitions.)
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Jun 17 '20 at 12:25
  • Only problem with that would be if there are some who call local/parish councils their "church council", which seems pretty likely... but that's what tag descriptions are for, we can work around that.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Jun 17 '20 at 12:28

If the any church calls a Council an Ecumenical Council, then the tag should be , more tags are better, we don't have a problem on this site with too many tags being applied to questions. If only the Catholic Church recognizes it as such, the tag should be applied as well.

So, if there's questions about Vatican II we don't eschew the nomenclature that Catholics actually use in favor of nomenclature they don't use. A Church Council might be a Eucharistic Congress or a World Youth Day or a Big Honking Meeting of Methodists. As an example, we don't segregate from just because questions about Catholicism accept answers from Sirach and we don't separate from just because Catholics and Orthodox have different ideas about priests.

as far as Vatican II goes, it's an Ecumenical Council to Catholics. It might more properly be called the first ecumenical council, but I digress. Here's how the wikipedia entry phrases it at least:

The Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, commonly known as the Second Vatican Council or Vatican II, addressed relations between the Catholic Church and the modern world. The Council, through the Holy See, was formally opened under the pontificate of Pope John XXIII on 11 October 1962 and was closed under Pope Paul VI on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on 8 December 1965. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Vatican_Council

The Tag wiki should be edited to say explicitly that it refers to Church councils which are referred to by their respective denominations as Ecumenical Councils

If a question is asking for a Catholic interpretation of an event at the first 7 ecumenical councils, then you should use as well. But for the purposes of this site, we probably can treat the first 7 as historical record common of enough of Christianity in general that we don't need additional scoping (however it would be NAA to get an answer denying the council came in - or from a group that was specifically anathematized at that council).

  • 1
    What about "Catholic ecumenical councils" as a description/tag name for the full 21 councils recognised by Catholicism? That seems a little different than "catholic-biblical-basis" as it refers to a set thing.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Jun 17 '20 at 12:23

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