Celebrated and sometimes controversial Swiss theologian Hans Küng has passed away at the age of 93.

Küng was one of the authors of several proposals that were accepted at the second Vatican Council (or Vatican II). He was known for being unafraid of criticising his own denomination, the Roman Catholic Church.

The author of numerous theological classics such as Infallible?, Does God Exist?, and On Being A Christian, Küng called into question the Vatican’s official opposition to women’s ordination and the idea that the Pope was infallible. The latter saw him removed as a Catholic priest (although a negotiated settlement with the Catholic Church allowed him to remain a theologian in good standing).

He also variously criticised the Vatican’s policies on governance, liturgy, birth control, priestly celibacy, homosexuality, soteriology, and other topics.

An in-demand speaker, Küng’s international trips included being a featured speaker at then 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, an event that featured the Deli Lama as the keynote speaker. This was an example of Küng’s work in extending the dialogue between Christianity and other world religions.

Widely recognised for its rigour and originality, his work also served to create bridges between Catholics and Protestants.

In noting the sheer amount of Küng’s proposals that were accepted during Vatican II, Vatican expert Peter Hebblethwaite wrote that “Never again would a theologian have such influence.”


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