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United through Diversity

An Insight into Federalism and Ecumenism within Italian Protestantism


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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I. The Question of “Peace” within Italian Protestantism


I. The Question of “Peace” within Italian Protestantism

1. Europeanism, pacifism and irenism in the Waldensian Church and society between the 19th and 20th centuries

As clearly shown in the first part of this essay, the Reformed nature of the Waldensian culture has been instrumental in providing Italian Evangelism with an international and resolutely cosmopolitan breadth. Because of their century-old bonds with the Reformed world and their close connections with the Protestant communities established at the international and European levels, the Waldensians did not regard themselves as part of a limited confessional and territorial religious movement, and – in the long term – of a nation-oriented perspective, in accordance with their refusal of all strict political and religious schemes; as a matter of fact, from a confessional point of view, the Waldensians were close to the other European Protestant Churches and to the ecumenical perspective, which, in turn, was part of the Christian message.

This spirit, as we have seen, was the outcome of a particular historical, religious and political context and gave origin to a bivalent feeling encompassing both the community of believers and the universal Church. In the Protestant culture, the sense of freedom within the autonomy of their own communities is substantiated in a universal community. This twofold attitude was the consequence of the need for a confessional independence and the result of a reaction to the strict uniformity of the Catholicism. In particular, the sense of communion among the Protestant families stemmed...

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