Rome, February 15, 2020 – The anniversary of the granting of civil rights by King Charles Albert to the Waldensians takes place on February 17. A few weeks later, on March 29, 1848, the same rights were granted to the Jews. The decision was greeted with enthusiasm and celebrated by the Waldensians around large bonfires. The tradition of the Bonfires of Freedom continues today and as every year, in the evening between 16 and 17 February, many of them are lit not only in the historical places of the Waldensian presence, as a signal that spreads from valley to valley to renew the good news, but also in other places of the peninsula where Protestant churches exist.
Around 17 February, Italian Protestants also celebrate the “Freedom Week”, promoted by the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI) and dedicated to the themes of secularism, rights, evangelical presence in the Italian society, in the belief that “the freedom we celebrate is that of all citizens and not only of the Protestants”, Pastor Luca Maria Negro explained. The theme of this year celebrations, decided by the FCEI Assembly , is anti-Semitism.
For the occasion, the FCEI produced “Against anti-Semitism and the drift of hatred”, a booklet designed as a tool of work and reflection for the churches with the invitation to “be vigilant and active against anti-Semitism and certainly against any form of racism, xenophobia, sexism and discrimination of all minorities”.
“In front of the continuous attacks of anti-Semitism, often occurring in this period in Italy, we renew our closeness and solidarity to the Jewish communities” declared Negro on the occasion of the last offenses, on February 12, in one of the schools of Pomezia and in Turin, on February 10, against Marcello Segre, a well known volunteer in the Piedmont Region.
The Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI) gathers many of the historical names of Italian Protestantism: Baptists, Waldensians, Methodists, Lutherans, Salvation Army, the Communion of Free Churches, the Italian Apostolic Church and the St. Andrew’s Church in Rome , an English-speaking Protestant church belonging to the European Presbytery of the Church of Scotland. The Union of Adventist Christian Churches of the 7th day (UICCA) and the Federation of Pentecostal Churches (FCP) participate in the Federation as “observers”.