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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. Federalism and Ecumenism in International Reformed Protestantism


I. Federalism and Ecumenism in International Reformed Protestantism

1. Christian ecumenism and European federalism: “United through Diversity”

Before describing the consistency of the Waldensian effort in the MFE, it is necessary to widen our gaze to the international landscape to reveal in the broader structure of Reformed Protestantism the propensity for federalist ideas. If the ultimate objective of this work is to find a connection between federal Protestant thought and political federalism at a concrete level, reflections on ecumenism carried out by international Reformed Protestantism made this connection evident. A tangible proof was a con-and federal-type of perspective both within the confessional realm and in the context of political arrangements in the first half of the 20th century. This perspective, although still lacking a theoretical codification in studies on political thought, was present in the political experience of many representatives of European and North American Protestantism who adhered before, during and after the Second World War to the various pro-European and federalist movements which arose before and during the Resistance.

For this reason, before describing the facts related to Waldensian activism in the MFE, it is necessary to present the ideological characterizations which influenced the thinking of the Protestants, making them more open to and predisposing them to the pro-European and federalist demands. Without these premises, in fact, it would not be possible to fully understand the reasons which led international Protestantism, organized in the World Council of Churches, to support a federal hypothesis...

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