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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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Paolo Ricca

The substance of this book is made up of three focal points, resulting in its originality and merit. The first explores and documents the link between Calvinism and Federalism, between Reformed ecclesiology (distinct from the Lutheran) and federal democracy. The second traces and brings to light this link in the centuries-old history of the Waldensian Church – a small Calvinist enclave within Roman Catholic Italy. The third shows the close interconnection in the first half of last century (but with consequences that extend to the present day) between the ecumenical intentions of the churches (at the time, only the main Protestant, Anglican and some Orthodox Churches outside the Soviet area) to embark on their reconciliation after centuries of divisions and controversies, and the political project to unite the countries of Europe, finally overcoming the various and often ominous nationalist currents and, with them, the anarchy caused by the sovereignty of nation states1. These three focal points deserve to be further briefly explored.

1. That there is a close connection between Protestantism, particularly Calvinism, and the progressive constitution of modern democracies is an established and long acknowledged fact. While Lutheranism maintained the Episcopal system in various national churches or ended up succumbing in others to the “supreme episcopacy” of the prince or whoever held the political authority considered a “prominent member of the church”, thus giving rise to an ecclesiastical organisation governed more from above than below, Calvinism – with its church councillors elected by...

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