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«Die Welt war meine Gemeinde»- Willem A. Visser ’t Hooft

A Theologian for Europe between Ecumenism and Federalism


Edited By Filippo Maria Giordano and Stefano Dell'Acqua

Willem A. Visser ’t Hooft (1900–1985), Dutch pastor and theologian, was one of the most significant personalities in the Protestant Ecumenical movement. Deeply influenced by Karl Barth, and filled with a strong Ecumenical spirit, he was closely involved in the founding of the World Council of Churches, of which he was elected General Secretary. During the Second World War, many Protestants became convinced of the need for an international political system which, beside uniting the nations and peoples of Europe, would guarantee them fundamental freedoms and mutual respect for their historical, cultural and confessional traditions.
The directors of the WWC were strongly committed to federalism, partly because of the political traditions of the states from which their member churches originated (Switzerland; Great Britain and its Commonwealth; the United States), and partly because of their conviction that a simple confederation of states, based on the model of the League of Nations, would be completely incapable of containing national ambitions. In spring 1944, Visser ’t Hooft welcomed into his Geneva home the representatives of the European Resistance, who, under the leadership of Altiero Spinelli and Ernesto Rossi, signed the International Federalist Declaration of the Resistance Movements. These historic transnational encounters, aimed not only at coordinating military action or seeking diplomatic contacts but at exploring ways to «build» peace and re-establish the future of the Continent on new foundations, marked a profound break with the past.
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Global Ethics and World Federalism

Kant, the War and the Moral Development of Man


Lucio LEVI

According to Kant’s philosophy of history, law and politics, war is the greatest evil afflicting mankind, “the greatest obstacle to morality”1. In other words, it is the factor that mutilates man and inhibits his moral development.

Since all individuals are forced to adapt their behaviour to a social structure modelled on the authoritarian and warlike needs of the state, and their mind to the ethics of violence generated by this structure, their skills develop unilaterally and their moral development is hindered.

In a world divided into sovereign states, the application of the law as a regulatory principle of social relations stops at state boundaries, while violence is always possible in relations among states since, in the absence of a supranational power, the conditions needed to enforce the law are lacking. “Why do you kill me?”, a character of the Pensées by Pascal asks. And the answer is, “What! Do you not live on the other side of the river? If you lived on this side, my friend, I would be a murderer and it would be unjust to slay you in this manner, but since you live on the other side, I am a brave man and this is just”. And Pascal comments: “A strange justice that is bounded by a river! Truth on this side of the Pyrenees, error on the other side”2. The national viewpoint prevents people from recognising that our enemy shares with us...

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