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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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II. Pre-federal Aspects in Waldensian Culture and History


II. Pre-federal Aspects in Waldensian Culture and History

1. Territorial and confessional identity of a “popolo-chiesa”

Having defined the cultural and social aspects of federalism, having traced back its origin within the theological and ecclesiological tradition of reformed Protestantism, and having described the secularisation process of the federal thought that gave origin to the institutional features of modern federalism, it is now time to investigate into the presence of such political and religious aspects in the history and culture of Reformed Waldism.

Considering that the scope of our work does not revolve around a thorough investigation into the nature of the Waldensian movement – which took place outside the historical context and the intrinsic reasons underlying the Reformation – we have decided to focus on its progressive approach to Calvinism in the first half of the 16th century1. In fact, during this period the Waldensian Church joined the Reformation movement and also manifested the intention to conform not only the ecclesiastical structure but also that of the Waldensian community itself, to the organizational principles of the Calvinist Church. We will therefore focus on the transition of the Waldensian movement from heretical community to real Church, rather than on its pauperistic origins and the subsequent evolutions of Waldism in its passage from the South of France to the Po Valley, until its partial settlement in the area of the Cottian Alps2. The creation of a Church was instrumental for Waldism to create its own confessional←125 | 126...

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