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United through Diversity

An Insight into Federalism and Ecumenism within Italian Protestantism

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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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II. Federalism within Anti-Fascismand Waldensian Resistance

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II. Federalism within Anti-Fascism and Waldensian Resistance

1. The Waldensian world faced with Fascism: a “silent resistance”

The adhesion of a part of the Waldensian intellectual world to Europeanism and federalism, which occurred in the 1900s, was also the result of a long series of experiences and aspirations which had marked the historical events of the Church and the Waldensian community.

This past had exerted an influence on the Waldensian society, and many politically involved intellectuals identified in federalism an ideology useful to implement at a political level the principles and values which these laypeople and members of the clergy considered constitutive of their own historical and cultural patrimony. In short, the latent reasons for this adhesion can be sought in part in the confessional nature of the Waldensian culture; in part in the historical predisposition of the Waldensians towards the themes of peace and Europeanism; in part in reasons attributable to the framework of their religious values; and, finally, in a particular historical conscience that especially the Barthians knew how to cultivate when faced with the phenomena of nationalism. In that sense Spini’s description of M.A. Rollier and the characteristics which made him an “anomaly” in the anti-fascist activism and European federalism is paradigmatic:

The personality of Mario A. Rollier – Spini wrote – presents characteristics of strong originality, respect to those of other leaders of the Action Party for the fact that his political militancy is ultimately his own discovery of European...

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