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Kyrkoplikt has its origins as a personal act of reconciliation with God and the members of your home congregation. It was necessary to rejoin the congregation and to receive forgiveness of sins. After a person declared their guilt, and asked for forgiveness by God and their congregation, promising penance and improvement the priest could grant forgiveness.
The practice of kyrkoplikt was also used as a punishment by the civil courts for a variety of offenses such as blaspheme, striking or abusing another, theft, committing immoralities, bearing false witness, and so on. For example, a person who had been pardoned from a death sentence could have been judged to pay fines. If the fines could not be paid, the punishment could have been changed to corporal punishment along with krykoplikt. In this context the kyrkoplikt was seen as a punishment of humiliation.
Types of Kyrkoplikt
There were two types of kyrkoplikt, the "uppenbara" and the "enskilda."
- The uppenbara kyrkoplikt meant that a person had to go up and stand on the pliktpallen in front of their home congregation during church services and acknowledge their guilt and express repentance.
- The enskilda kyrkoplikt meant that a person resumed association with the congregation and had to meet with the priest and a few selected members of the congregation in the sacristy (the priest’s dressing room where the vestments and vessels are stored) or in the church either before or after the church service. During the meeting the person would acknowledge their guilt and express their repentance.
Through legislation the kyrkoplikt was abolished on May 4, 1855. In 1918 all forms of "church punishment" were discontinued as punishment from a civil court.
- In earlier times kyrkoplikt was also called "kyrkliga handling" meaning a church action.
Gernandt, C.E., Nordisk Familjebok, Halmstad 1904 – 1926
provided by Projekt Runeberg at Projekt Runeberg: Nordisk Familjebok
Swedish Wikipedia at: http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyrkoplikt