Father Hans Küng, the prominent and sometimes controversial Swiss Catholic theologian, died in his sleep in the university town of Tübingen, Germany, where he had lived and lectured since 1960, said a spokesman for his Global Ethic Foundation. He was 93.
Father Küng was one of the most outspoken Roman 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-Father Joseph Ratzinger, in Tübingen in the 1960s.
Along with Father Ratzinger, Father Küng was one of the youngest theological experts advising bishops at the Second Vatican Council, 1962-1965, but not long after the council he stirred controversy with his views on papal infallibility.
Because of this he had his “missio canonica,” the license needed to teach Roman Catholic theology, withdrawn in 1979 and was no longer allowed to teach as a Catholic theologian at Catholic universities.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. Father Küng remained a Catholic priest.
In the decades after Vatican II, he frequently criticized mandatory priestly celibacy, the loss of the Church’s credibility, the ban on women priests and the Roman Curia.
Father Küng, who was born in Sursee, Switzerland, was a prolific writer and wrote several bestsellers that were translated into more than 30 languages.—CNS