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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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III. The Waldensian Contribution to European Federalism: A Cultural and Political Battle


III. The Waldensian Contribution to European Federalism: A Cultural and Political Battle

1. The United States of Europe: towards the ideaof a supranational federation

Pistone distinguishes two categories of activists within the Piedmontese federalist leadership: the so-called “hard core” group, formed predominantly by independents and whose members chose to work exclusively in the MFE without binding themselves to any party; and that of the federalists inserted in the framework of a party or working on the unionist front1. We can place almost all of the Waldensians within the first group, especially after the disappearance of the PdA, mainly due to essentially cultural and ideological motivations, which imposed on them an exclusive involvement in the struggle for the European federation, considered the main purpose of their political commitment.

It must be mentioned that the structure of the MFE was not so much that of a conventional party, but rather that of a transversal movement, however framed and united around its objectives and programme2. This had allowed some Waldensian federalists like Cabella and Malan to participate actively in the MFE, maintaining themselves independent or, in the case of pastor Lo Bue, to adhere to the ideas of the Movement without compromising his position inside the Waldensian Church3. The MFE was originally structured on the network of anti-fascist parties, starting with the PdA, but not in its entirety4. This confirmed its inter-party and transversal nature, and its political desire to translate into←293 | 294→ actions the principles...

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