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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. The Question of “Christian Unity” within Italian Protestantism


II. The Question of “Christian Unity” within Italian Protestantism

1. From the World Alliance to the Ecumenical Movement

In the years between the two World Wars, the Christian world saw the thriving of international political initiatives aimed at contracting great ecclesiastic alliances in order to promote, on the one hand, the gradual confessional rapprochement among the Churches and, on the other hand, to detect the most suitable instruments to foster peace at the international level. Such initiatives, made by the Protestant Churches, paved the way to the creation of the Ecumenical Movement that led to the establishment of the World Council of Churches1.←207 | 208→

The idea to gather the world Churches to promote peace was first launched in May 1907 by some Protestants churchmen during an informal meeting in London: the World Alliance for Promoting International Friendship through the Churches was then established “through the Spirit of God speaking to the conscience of few men”2. The participants decided to involve also the British Churches, and an “interchange of visits” with the German Churches was arranged in 1908. Contacts were also established with similar movements in North America. Seven years later, in August 1914, the Alliance was formally set up during a meeting held in Costanza, which was attended by about a hundred representatives of the various European and American Churches and led to the creation of an organizational committee: at first, it was made up of representatives of the British, American, French,...

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