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United through Diversity

An Insight into Federalism and Ecumenism within Italian Protestantism

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Edited By Filippo Maria Giordano

The book analyses the Europeanist and federalist effort of Italian Protestants in the struggle for European unification. This investigation revolves around two distinct guiding arguments: a political one, focused on the analysis of political thought; and a historical one reconstructing the most recent events about the Italian Protestants’ activism for the political unification of Europe. The essay retraces the developments of federalism within the Protestant world from the 16th to the 20th century by referring to the bond between federalism and ecumenism. The volume is divided into three parts and provides a historical overview of federal thought within the Protestant world from the Reformation to the Enlightenment. It also addresses a series of projects aimed at the political unification of the European continent, and analyses the similarities between ecclesiastical constitutionalism and institutional federalism. This theoretical background paves the way for the contribution of Italian Protestants to the international peace movement and the confessional reconciliation among the Churches in the 19th and 20th centuries. Finally, this essay highlights the practical and theoretical contribution of the Italian Protestants to the cause of "United States of Europe", according to the principles of the Ventotene Manifesto.

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Introduction

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Filippo Maria Giordano**

One of the chief architects of the European Union, Jacques Delors, in a now long ago speech on the contribution of Christian culture and thought to European construction, recalled how “les liens entre la tradition chrétienne et le fédéralisme en tant que modéle politique assurant au mieux l’equilibre entre liberté individuelle et la nécessité d’organisation sociale son trés forts”1. If the merit of being the first “à fonder philosophiquement l’idée de subsidiarité comme principe inspirateur du modèle fédéral” is generally given to Tommaso d’Aquino, stating that “la personne est première par rapport à toute institution ou structures politique parce qu’elle est image de Dieu”2, the former President of the European Commission also drew attention to another contribution by Christian culture to the theoretical discussion on federalism, i.e. that of the Calvinist Johannes Althusius. It is to him and his famous treatise Politica methodice digesta that “remonterait l’origine de la notion de fédéralisme ainsi que celle de subsidiarité”3 and, with it, one of the first theories on the proto-federal State. Many other thoughts followed, especially in Protestant circles, substantiated by sometimes bold experiments in social organisations, denominational communities, ecclesiastical structures, and then later political structures, confirming the fundamental influence – not always direct but often implied4 – of the←25 | 26→ Christian tradition on the institutional architecture of the modern nations. It is sufficient to look at the special Presbyterian conformation or...

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