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United through Diversity

An Insight into Federalism and Ecumenism within Italian Protestantism


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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I. The Origins of the Political Idea behind Protestant Federalism


I. The Origins of the Political Idea behind Protestant Federalism

1. The Protestant “Revolution”

After a brief explanation of the concept and theory of federalism, it is now necessary to look at how its principles started appearing within the religious tradition of Protestantism, particularly within Reformed Protestantism, thus giving rise to the cultural conditions necessary to form its idea.

Before getting into a specific analysis of both the confessional and theological aspects of the Reformation having a direct influence on the development of modern ethics and the creation of ideas and political practices, including the federal ones, it is necessary to introduce the phenomenon of Protestantism and to fit it into a wider historical process.

The tumultuous period characterized by the rise of the Protestant Reformation in Europe represented an extremely complex and difficult phase in modern history, marked not only by economic, political, cultural and religious changes, but also by the irreparable rift with the medieval order, based on the political and confessional unit of Western Christianity. Such an order was imposed and granted by the authority of the Catholic Church and the Holy Roman Empire1, whose powers had diminished due to the mutual competition on their spheres of influence, thus giving rise to a social and political instability that let national monarchies affirm their desire for power. These kingdoms cast their ambitions on Europe and strengthened state structures through the ramification and the centralization of power. This process led to...

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