Hans Küng

Hans Küng

Hans Küng (born March 19, 1928 in Sursee, Canton of Lucerne), is a Catholic priest, a Swiss theologian, and a prolific author. Since 1995 he has been President of the Foundation for a Global Ethic ("Stiftung Weltethos"). Küng remains a Catholic priest in good standing, [Küng, "The Catholic Church: A Short History" (2002), Introduction, p. "xviii": "In 1979 I then had personal experience of the Inquisition under another pope. My permission to teach was withdrawn by the church, but nevertheless I retained my chair and my institute (which was separated from the Catholic faculty). For two further decades I remained unswervingly faithful to my church in critical loyalty, and to the present day I have remained professor of ecumenical theology and a Catholic priest in good standing. I affirm the papacy for the Catholic Church, but at the same time indefatigably call for a radical reform of it in accordance with the criterion of the gospel."] but the Vatican has rescinded his authority to teach Catholic theology. Though he had to leave the Catholic faculty, he remained at the University of Tübingen as a professor of Ecumenical Theology, serving as Emeritus Professor since 1996. Neither his bishop nor the Holy See has revoked his priestly faculties.

Life and work

Küng studied theology and philosophy at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and was ordained in 1954. He then continued his education in various European cities, including the Sorbonne in Paris. His doctoral thesis "Justification. La doctrine de Karl Barth et une réflexion catholique", was published in English in 1964. It located a number of areas of agreement between Barthian and Catholic theologies of justification, concluding that the differences were not fundamental and did not warrant a division in the Church. (The book included a letter from Karl Barth, attesting that he agreed with Küng's representation of his theology.) In this book Küng argues that Barth like Martin Luther overreacted against the Catholic Church, which despite its imperfections has been and remains the body of Christ. [Hans Küng "Justification: The Doctrine of Karl Barth", 1964, p. 200 ]

In 1960 Küng was appointed professor of theology at Eberhard Karls University, Tübingen, Germany. Just like his colleague Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), in 1962 he was appointed "peritus" by Pope John XXIII, serving as an expert theological advisor to members of the Second Vatican Council until its conclusion in 1965. At Küng's instigation, the Catholic Faculty at Tübingen appointed Ratzinger as professor of dogmatics. However, due to the 1968 students revolt, Ratzinger moved to the university of Regensburg, ending the cooperation between the two.

In the late 1960s Küng became the first major Roman Catholic theologian after the late 19th century Old Catholic Church schism to reject the doctrine of papal infallibility, in particular in his book "Infallible? An Inquiry" (1971). Consequently, on December 18, 1979, he was stripped of his license to teach as a Roman Catholic theologian but carried on teaching as a tenured professor of ecumenical theology at the University of Tübingen until his retirement ("Emeritierung") in 1996. To this day he remains a persistent critic of papal authority, which he claims is man-made (and thus reversible) rather than instituted by God. He was not excommunicated though, and remains a Roman Catholic priest.

In the early 1990s Küng initiated a project called "Weltethos" ("Global Ethic"), which is an attempt at describing what the world religions have in common (rather than what separates them) and at drawing up a minimal code of rules of behaviour everyone can accept. His vision of a global ethic was embodied in the document for which he wrote the initial draft, "". This Declaration was signed at the 1993 Parliament of the World's Religions by many religious and spiritual leaders from around the world. Later Küng's project would culminate into the UN's "Dialogue Among Civilizations" to which Küng was assigned as one of 19 "eminent persons." Even though it was completed shortly after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 (in September 2001), there was no coverage in the U.S. media, something about which Küng complained. [ [http://weltethos.org/dat_eng/index_e.htm Global Ethic Foundation] ] [ [http://www.un.org/Dialogue/Kung.html UN - Short Biography] ] [ [http://lexnews.free.fr Hans Küng Interview (Revue Lexnews)] ]

Based on "Studium Generale" lectures at Tübingen University, his latest publication "Der Anfang aller Dinge" ("The beginning of all things") discusses the relationship between science and religion. In an analysis spanning from quantum physics to neuroscience, he comments on the current debate about evolution in the United States, dismissing those opposed to the teaching of evolution as "naive [and] un-enlightened."

On September 26, 2005, he had a friendly discussion about Catholic theology over dinner with Pope Benedict XVI, surprising some observers. [ "Pope's September surprise" [HOME EDITION] John L. Allen Jr., Los Angeles Times, Oct 30 2005, pg. M.5 ]

In 2007, he received a Masonic award for his entire life's work. [ [http://www.catholiccitizens.org/press/contentview.asp?c=40493 LONG TIME COMING: Exiled Theologian Hans Kueng Earns "Culture Award of German Freemasons" For a Lifetime of Service to 'the Craft'] - [http://www.catholiccitizens.org/ catholiccitizens.org] ] This award is strange, given the fact that Catholics who join freemasonic organizations are in "a state of grave sin" and "may not receive Holy Communion." [ See QUAESITUM EST, "Declaration on Masonic Organizations," Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, http://showcase.netins.net/web/clearlight/mason2.html.]

Visits to America (1963-1991)

During his 1963 six week (March-April) tour of the U.S., Küng gave the lecture "The Church and Freedom", receiving an interdict from Catholic University of America and an honorary doctorate from St. Louis University. He also accepted an invitation to visit John F. Kennedy at the White House. "Hans Küng (Makers of the Modern Theological Mind Series)," John J. Kiwiet, 1985 ] For 3 months in 1981, he was a guest professor at the University of Chicago. During this visit to the states, he was only invited to one Catholic institution: University of Notre Dame. He also appeared on the Phil Donahue Show [ Briggs, Kenneth A., New York Times, (Late Edition (East Coast)). New York, N.Y.: Dec 13, 1981. pg. A.29 ] In March of 1991, he gave a talk titled "No Peace Among Nations until Peace Among the Religions" at UCSD's Price Center. He also visited the nearby Beth El synagogue and spoke there on modern German-Jewish relations. [ "Noted theologian Hans Kung to speak at USCD, synagogue", Rita Gillmon. The San Diego Union San Diego, Calif.: Mar 9, 1991. pg. B.11 ]

Kung on John Paul II

In 2005 Kung published a critical article in Italy and Germany on "The failures of Pope Wojtyla". Kung argued that the world had expected a period of conversion, reform, and dialogue; but instead politically John Paul II offered a restoration of the pre-Vatican II status quo - thus blocking reform, inter-church dialogue and reasserting the absolute dominion of Rome.

"This Papacy has repeatedly declared its fidelity to Vatican II, in order to then betray it for reasons of political expediency. Council terms such as modernization, dialogue, and ecumenicalism' have been replaced by emphasis on restoration, mastery, and obedience. The criteria for the nomination of Bishops is not at all in the spirit of the Gospel... Pastoral politics has allowed the moral and intellectual level of the episcopate to slip to dangerous levels. A mediocre, rigid, and more conservative episcopate will be the lasting legacy of this papacy.


* "If you cannot see that divinity includes male and female characteristics and at the same time transcends them, you have bad consequences. Rome bases the exclusion of women priests on the idea that God is the father and Jesus is his son, there were only male disciples, etc. They are defending a patriarchal church with a patriarchal God. We must fight the patriarchal misunderstanding of God." — "Newsweek" interview, July 8, 1991
* "Everyone agrees the celibacy rule is just a church law dating from the 11th century, not a divine command." — "Newsweek" interview, July 8, 1991
* "There will be no peace among the nations without peace among the religions. There will be no peace among the religions without dialogue among the religions." - Küng speaking on global ethic [Talk delivered by Hans Küng on March 31, 2005, at the opening of the Exhibit on the World's Religions at Santa Clara University. [http://www.scu.edu/ethics/practicing/focusareas/global_ethics/laughlin-lectures/kung-world-religions.html] ]

elect bibliography (English translations)

* [http://books.google.com/books?id=HIStK7W4tvAC "Justification: The Doctrine of Karl Barth and a Catholic Reflection"] , (org. 1964), (40th Ann. Ed. 2004), (Trans. Hermann Haring), Westminster John Knox Press, ISBN 0-6642-2446-6
* [http://books.google.com/books?id=POVwAAAACAAJ "Infallible? An Inquiry"] , (1971) ISBN 0-385-18483-2
* [http://books.google.com/books?id=FDktAAAAMAAJ&pgis=1 "Signposts for the Future: Contemporary Issues facing the Church"] (1978), (ISBN 0-3851-3151-8), 204 pages
* [http://books.google.com/books?id=CPrX8zHU8vcC "Freud and the Problem of God: Enlarged Edition"] , Edward Quinn (translator), (ISBN 0-3000-4723-1), 126 pages, Yale University Press
* [http://books.google.com/books?id=qMoWAAAAIAAJ&pgis=1 "Does God Exist? An Answer For Today"] (1980) (ISBN 0-8245-1119-0)
* [http://books.google.com/books?id=oWENAAAACAAJ "Christianity and the world religions : paths of dialogue with Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism"] (1986) ISBN 0-3851-9471-4
* [http://books.google.com/books?id=jBNfAAAACAAJ "Christianity and Chinese Religions"] (with Julia Ching, 1988) (ISBN 0-334-02545-1)
* [http://books.google.com/books?id=T-0BAAAACAAJ "Theology for the Third Millennium: An Ecumenical View"] (1990) (Translated by Peter Heinegg) (ISBN 0-3854-1125-1)
* [http://books.google.com/books?id=DoelY_m7Ry4C "Great Christian Thinkers"] (1994) ISBN 0-8264-0848-6
* Christianity : Its Essence and History (1995) (ISBN 0334025710)
*"A Global Ethic for Global Politics and Economics" (1997) (ISBN 0-334-02686-5)
* [http://books.google.com/books?id=0FwMAAAACAAJ "The Catholic Church"] (2001) (ISBN 0-6796-4092-4)
* [http://books.google.com/books?id=P1HwYznLZm4C "The Beginning of All Things - Science and Religion"] (2007) (ISBN 978-0802807632)
*"" (2007) (ISBN 978-1-85168-377-2)

Biographies about

* [http://books.google.com/books?id=1d0zAAAAMAAJ&pgis=1 "Hans Küng his work and his way"] , Hans Küng, Hermann Häring, Karl-Josef Kuschel, Robert Nowell, Margret Gentner (1979) (ISBN 0-3851-5852-1)
* [http://books.google.com/books?id=g-CqwBDerz0C&pgis=1 "The New Inquisition?: The Case of Edward Schillebeeckx and Hans Küng"] , Peter Hebblethwaite, (ISBN 0-0606-3795-1)
* [http://books.google.com/books?id=ibYtAAAAMAAJ&pgis=1 "Hans Küng" (Makers of the Modern Theological Mind Series)] , John J. Kiwiet, Bob E. Patterson (Series Ed.) (1985) (ISBN 0-8499-2954-7)

ee also

*Parliament of the World's Religions


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