Eugenio Giani - Florence 7 april 2017


Video and text of the speech by dr. Eugenio Giani, President of the Regional Council of Tuscany.

Many thanks to Silvio. Actually, Silvio Calzolari here in the Regional Council is one of the family and he comes up with proposals for presentations of book, conferences, initiatives of absolute meaning and significance and when he proposes something, I always know that there are grounds of enrichment for all of us.

And in this case, to talk about secularism and freedom really means talking about concepts and values that were always expressive of the most authentic Tuscan Regional Assembly’s vocation and so, if under article 3 of the Constitution we consider that our State is founded on the principle that all are equal and have equal social dignity, without discrimination of sex, race, religion and that consequently the concept of freedom of religion, of secularity is the founding principle of our Republic, also in the meaning of possibility and capacity of dialogue, there is no doubt that it is very positive that there are movements that do not make of this just a constitutional guarantee, but rather an active principle, a moment of dialogue, of exchange and mutual enrichment based on the religious values and principles that each one supports.

Also very good is the volume – I was flipping through it – which is presented to us by the European Federation for Freedom of Belief, because it contains an interesting historical reconstruction of the concept of religious freedom, from the Stoics in the Greek culture to passages involving the best moments of our reality, the Renaissance, when Marsilio Ficino with his Platonic Academy or Pico della Mirandola with his erudition provided, on the principle of religious freedom, the base to somehow make the Florence of the Renaissance the expression of a melting pot of ideas and activities.

We know then how, in the highest points of our history, there has been a willingness to catch in religious freedom also the spurs for an enrichment of the Florentine and Tuscan identity profile.

Think about the significance of the Council of Florence of 1439, that is, the moment when Pope Eugene IV and Orthodox Patriarch Joseph had built the foundations to eventually draft the manifesto of 6 July 1439, with which the Eastern Church and the Western Church should have overcome their divisions thus finding a common pathway.

Of course this did not happen, because after the work done with the Pope, Patriarch Joseph was murdered and yet his death, occurred on the 8th of June, remains a mystery. So, the Patriarchs who seemingly had signed it, returned to their lands and kept up that clear and strict separation.

Therefore, in historical phases, Florence was also at the center of qualifying moments in the search of that commonality of values, of comparisons that, let’s say, could indeed bring some results, a progress, on the issue of religious freedom.

Just think what it meant, in terms of secularism, the season of the Grand Dukes of Lorraine, especially with Pietro De Poldo, a very religious person. If you examine his behavior and his way of being an absolutely religious person, you will see that he concurrently considered part of the fundamental principles the value of State secularism and he then made of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany in the late 1700 - early 1800 a melting pot of those values that the Enlightenment had expressed throughout Europe and which were founded on the principle of secularism.

Hence, the history of Tuscany is really dotted with attention to State secularism on the one hand and on the other to freedom of belief. That is why it is very important that these issues are not given for granted just because they are stated in article 3 of the Constitution, but they are instead to be experienced as a source of reflection, commitment and active participation.

Therefore this organization, this Federation that Silvio has enlivened with these authoritative personalities, will always find our doors opened, rather, thank you for choosing among the many places where this could have happened – f you want somewhat symbolically – the institutional place of recognition of the Institution of the Tuscany Region.

I'm glad to see Migliori who, in these rooms, had such an active role also, let’s say, in constituent moments, in addition then to national roles of absolute meaning he performed and, you know, really consider this environment your home, because the Regional Council does not want just to be the place where laws and administrative measures are discussed and approved, but rather a true open house for the Tuscany people. In our reality is it is really a pride having always taken in due regard religious freedom and the study of the themes of interiority and spirituality as one of the fundamental sources for the enrichment of mankind and consequently his participation to the life of the community.

Thank you.