Navigation – Plan du site

"... i karą być powinno". Goethe wobec instytucji pokuty kościelnej

Tadeusz Zatorski

“...should be the penalty”. Goethe about the Institution of Church Penance

The paper discusses Goethe’s stand on the institution of “church penance”, a humiliating penalty applied in several Protestant German duchies in the case of people committing various misdeeds, particularly moral ones (extramarital sex). Contrary to the quite widespread opinion, the poet did not pronounce for its complete abolition, he only suggested its commutation. He was guided by the conviction that the traditional Christian institutions and the Christian religion itself are an important binder of the society, and primarily an indispensable means of maintaining discipline among people rather than by his faithfulness towards these institutions (he called himself a “pagan” and a “determined non-Christian”, and he was considered one). This made him oppose to the mitigation of censorship and to mixed Christian-Jewish marriages.