University of Tübingen: Theologian Hans Küng has passed away

The University of Tübingen mourns the loss of Professor Dr. Dr. hc mult. Hans Küng. He died on April 6th at the age of 93 in his home in Tübingen.

“With Hans Küng, the University of Tübingen has lost a productive researcher, an extremely creative scholar and an excellent theologian,” said the rector of the university, Professor Bernd Engler. “With the Institute for Ecumenical Research and the Global Ethic Institute at our university, Küng has created institutions of lasting importance and thus profoundly shaped the university. With his globally recognized commitment to church reforms and the dialogue between religions, he has made a significant contribution to the international reputation of the University of Tübingen. “

Küng was born in Sursee, Switzerland (canton Lucerne) in 1928. He studied at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and received his doctorate from the Institut Catholique in Paris. In 1954 he was ordained a priest. In 1960 Küng was appointed full professor for fundamental theology at the Catholic Theological Faculty of the University of Tübingen. Three years later he also became director of the Institute for Ecumenical Research he founded.

The theologian repeatedly criticized the Pope and the Catholic Church. At the turn of the year 1979/80, the bishop of Rottenburg-Stuttgart reacted to pressure from Pope John Paul II and the German Bishops’ Conference by withdrawing the church’s permission to teach. In order to enable Küng to continue teaching at the University of Tübingen, the state government, the university management and the theologian agreed on a compromise: the university spun off its Institute for Ecumenical Research from the Catholic Theological Faculty and placed it directly under the Senate – a one-off Model in the history of the University of Tübingen.

In 1980, Küng and his friend Walter Jens founded the General Studies at the University of Tübingen. Every semester since then, scientific topics are presented in a generally understandable manner in several series. The events have numerous loyal listeners from the city and its surroundings.

As a pioneer of interreligious dialogue and for his commitment to a “global ethic” that transcends cultures and religions, Hans Küng achieved worldwide renown in all world religions. Under his leadership, the “Parliament of the World Religions” adopted the “Declaration on the Global Ethic” in 1993, and in 1995 the Global Ethic Foundation was established in Tübingen, of which Küng was President until 2013. With the help of his excellent contacts, Küng was able to invite high-ranking global ethic speakers to Tübingen, including the then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the then Federal President Horst Köhler, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Bishop Desmond Tutu and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson.

In 2012, the Global Ethic Foundation established the Global Ethic Institute as an affiliate of the University of Tübingen with significant support from the Karl Schlecht Foundation. There, scientists conduct research on questions of globalization ethics, business ethics and intercultural learning. At the same time, it organizes courses on ethical issues, especially in the areas of economics and religion.

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