Swiss theologian Fr Hans Küng dies at 93

Fr Hans Küng in Tübingen in 2008 (CNS/KNA, Harald Oppitz)

Fr Hans Küng, the prominent and sometimes controversial Swiss Catholic theologian, died peacefully in his sleep in the university town of Tübingen, Germany. He was 93. Source: CNS.

Fr Küng was one of the most outspoken Catholic theologians and one of the sharpest critics of St John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. He had worked with and studied with Pope Benedict, then-Fr Joseph Ratzinger, in Tübingen in the 1960s.

Along with Fr Ratzinger, Fr Küng was one of the youngest theological experts advising bishops at the Second Vatican Council in 1962-65, but not long after the council he stirred controversy with his views on papal infallibility.

Because of this he had his missio canonica, the licence needed to teach Roman Catholic theology, withdrawn in 1979 and was no longer allowed to teach as a Catholic theologian at Catholic universities. Thereafter, he became professor of ecumenical theology in Tübingen, until his retirement in 1996. Fr Küng remained a Catholic priest.

In the decades after Vatican II, he frequently criticised mandatory priestly celibacy, the loss of the Church’s credibility, the ban on women priests and the “Kremlin”-like Roman Curia. He expressed support for the demands of grassroots organisations calling for more democracy in the Church.

After his retirement in 2011, he co-founded the Global Ethic Foundation at the University of Tübingen.

In 2019, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of having his mission canonica withdrawn, Fr Küng told KNA, the German Catholic news agency, that after an exchange of letters with Pope Francis he saw himself as “quasi-informally” rehabilitated ecclesiastically.


Swiss-born Fr Hans Küng, theologian, dies at 93 (By Anli Serfontein, CNS)


Hans Küng, celebrated and controversial Swiss theologian, has died (NCR Online

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