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Hans Küng, dissident theologian, dead at 93

April 06, 2021

Hans Küng, the theologian whose work drew a censure from the Vatican, died on April 6 at his home in Tubingen, Germany, at the age of 93.

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Born in Switzerland, Küng was trained as a theologian, studying at the Gregorian University in Rome, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1954. He served as a peritus, or theological expert, at the Second Vatican Council, and later emerged as a persistent critic of Church teachings on a variety of topics, including contraception, abortion, ecumenical affairs, and papal infallibility.

In 1979, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) issued a finding that Küng “can no longer be considered a Catholic theologian nor function as such in a teaching role.”

Nevertheless, bells tolled at the Vatican when the news of Küng’s death reached Rome. Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, mourned “a great figure in the theology of the last century.”

In a statement released at the news of the theologian’s death, Bishop Georg Bätzing, the president of the German bishops’ conference, praised Küng for his “many years of commitment as a Catholic theologian.” Bishop Bätzing made special note of Küng’s work with the Global Ethic Foundation, a project that he championed later in his life.

In September 2005, Küng had a private meeting with Pope Benedict XVI— who, in his earlier role as prefect of the CDF, had signed the 1979 Vatican censure. The Vatican described the encounter between the two former colleagues as “friendly,” but Küng would later blast Pope Benedict as “unteachable on matters of birth control and abortion.”

Earlier, in 2003, Küng had denied reports that he had asked the Vatican to lift the censure of his theological works.

In 2013, Küng disclosed that he had contemplated assisted suicide. He suffered from Parkinson’s disease.

 


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Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: dover beachcomber - Apr. 09, 2021 11:06 PM ET USA

    “Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy.”

  • Posted by: a son of Mary - Apr. 06, 2021 10:35 PM ET USA

    Here’s how to tell when faith haters self identify. In 1979, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) said Küng “can no longer be considered a Catholic theologian nor function as such in a teaching role.” Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, mourned “a great figure in the theology of the last century.” Kung on Pope Benedict “unteachable on matters of birth control and abortion.” Pray for Hans ...? I know I should ...