HANS KÜNG, INITIATOR OF THE GLOBAL ETHIC FOUNDATION

A VISION BECOMES REALITY

Hans Küng was the initiator of the Global Ethic Project and founded the Global Ethic Foundation in 1995. Küng was a Catholic theologian and priest, a world-renowned pioneer regarding fundamental questions concerning Christian faith as well as in questions of church reform, Christian ecumenism and the dialogue between religions. His countless publications – including 73 monographs alone – have been translated into all the major world languages.

Learn more about the unique life of this pioneer of interreligious dialogue, his work and the path to the Global Ethic Foundation according to Hans Küng.

HansKueng

Hans Küng was the initiator of the Global Ethic Project and founded the Global Ethic Foundation in 1995. Küng was a Catholic theologian and priest, a world-renowned pioneer regarding fundamental questions concerning Christian faith as well as in questions of church reform, Christian ecumenism and the dialogue between religions. His countless publications – including 73 monographs alone – have been translated into all the major world languages.

Learn more about the unique life of this pioneer of interreligious dialogue, his work and the path to the Global Ethic Foundation according to Hans Küng.

A LIFE'S JOURNEY – A LIFE'S WORK

Das Bild ist schwarz-weiß und zeigt den Gründer der Weltethos Stiftung Hans Küng als Kleinkind stehend vor einem Gartentisch.

1928

Hans Küng is born on 19 March to a family of shoe-retailers in Sursee, Switzerland. Hans Küng has five sisters and two brothers – the first of whom dies, aged one, in 1936, the second in 1959.

Das Foto ist ein Passbild in schwarz-weiß des Gründer der Weltethos Stiftung Hans Küng im Alter von 10 Jahren.

1938

On 12 March, the German Wehrmacht invades Austria. This is a surprise for Switzerland, which fears a similar fate. It is also a surprise for the then ten-year-old Hans, who begins reading the newspaper regularly on that day.


1940

As a fifth-grader, the then 12-year-old, politically well-informed Hans writes the longest school essay of his life: 32 pages on the topic of “How the Second World War Broke Out!”

Das Foto (schwarz-weiß) zeigt den Gründer der Weltethos Stiftung Hans Küng als Student lesend an einem Tisch.

1948

Upon graduating from the Gymnasium in Luzern, Hans Küng joins the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome to study theology and philosophy from 1948 to 1955.

Das Foto (schwarz-weiß) zeigt den Gründer der Weltethos Stiftung Hans Küng bei seiner Primiz in Rom.

1954

Hans Küng is ordained a priest in Rome, where he celebrates his first Holy Mass (Primiz) in the crypt of St. Peter’s Cathedral.

Das Bild zeigt die Vorderseite eines Buches mit dem Titel „Hans Küng, Rechtfertigung, Die Lehre Karl Barths und eine katholische Besinnung, mit einem Geleitbrief von Karl Barth“.

1955

Hans Küng studies at the Sorbonne in Paris for a further two years, where he obtains his doctorate in theology in 1957 with a thesis on the teaching of the Protestant theologian Karl Barth on the subject of apologia.


1957

Already in early years, Hans Küng develops into a convinced ecumenist working resolutely to overcome the schism in the church that has existed since the Reformation. This, however, makes him suspicious of the church leadership: In the “Holy Office” of the Roman Inquisition, Küng receives the protocol number 399/57i, which he retains for the rest of his life.

Das Bild in schwarz-weiß zeigt den 32-jährigen Gründer der Stiftung Weltethos Hans Küng in einem Hörsaal im Gespräch mit Studenten.

1960

After his time as vicar at the Hofkirche Lucerne (1957–59) and as a research assistant for Catholic dogma in Münster (1959–60), Hans Küng is appointed professor of fundamental theology at the University of Tübingen. He was to live and work in Tübingen for the next 61 years.

Das Bild in schwarz-weiß zeigt den Gründer der Stiftung Weltethos Hans Küng im Talar mit Papieren in der Hand.

1962

Hans Küng is appointed official theological advisor (peritus) to the Bishop of Rottenburg-Stuttgart by Pope John XXIII at the Second Vatican Council (1962–65).

Das Bild (schwarz-weiß) zeigt Hans Küng, den späteren Gründer der Stiftung Weltethos, bei einer Rede vor einer Turnhalle voll Menschen auf Stühlen in San Francisco.

1963

At the age of 35, Hans Küng receives his first honorary doctorate at the University of St. Louis (Missouri) – 15 more honorary doctorates as well as countless prizes and awards will follow. On his lecture tour through the USA in 1963, Hans Küng fills the largest event halls with lectures on topics such as “Church and Freedom.”

Das Bild in schwarz-weiß zeigt Hans Küng 1963 an einem Tisch mit Studenten beim gemeinsamen Studium im Institut für ökumenische Forschung der Universität Tübingen.

1963

Hans Küng is appointed Professor of Dogma and Ecumenical Theology as well as Director of the Institute for Ecumenical Research at the University of Tübingen. Küng makes his “ecumenical institute” an internationally recognized place of academic teaching and research. Likewise it becomes a much-respected forum for dialogue with representatives from science, religions, art and other areas of society.

Das Bild zeigt die Vorderseite eines Buches mit der Aufschrift „Ökumenische Forschungen, Erste Abteilung, Hans Küng, Die Kirche“.

1967

Despite all progress, the Second Vatican Council, with all its reforms of the ecclesiastical system, falls far short of the expectations of Hans Küng – and with him - of countless Catholics worldwide. With his programmatic book “The Church”

Das Bild zeigt die Vorderseite eines Buches mit der Aufschrift „Hans Küng, Christ sein“ des Piper Verlags.

1968

Theology is also confronted with fundamental questions in the wake of the social changes initiated by the “student revolution” in 1968. Hans Küng tries to find answers through the publication of his books “Incarnation of God” (1970), his most important work “Being a Christian” (1974), the work central to his thought “Does God Exist?” (1978) as well as “Eternal Life?” (1982). “Being a Christian” and “Does God Exist?” are translated into the most important world languages within a very short period of time. This makes Hans Küng one of the few theologians to be widely discussed far beyond the realms of theology and the church.

Das Bild zeigt die Vorderseite eines Buches mit der Aufschrift „Unfehlbar? Hans Küng“.

1970

Küng’s critique of the ecclesiastical system becomes harsher and finally leads to his sensational work “Infallible? An Unresolved Enquiry” - a fundamental critique of the Church’s dogma of infallibility and the starting point of its ongoing conflict with the Magisterium.

Das Bild (schwarz-weiß) zeigt Hans Küng, den Gründer der Stiftung Weltethos, an einem Pult im vollen Festsaal der Universität Tübingen bei einer Rede.

1979

Hans Küng’s conflict with the Roman magisterium escalates: on 19 December 1979, the Vatican Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith revokes Hans Küng’s ecclesiastical teaching authority (missio canonica).

Das schwarz-weiße Bild zeigt Hans Küng gestikulierend an einem Tisch bei einer Pressekonferenz.

1980

The “Tübingen Compromise” between the Church and the Ministry of Science secures Hans Küng's academic future: he leaves the Faculty of Catholic Theology, but remains Professor of Ecumenical Theology with virtually all academic rights. His “Institute for Ecumenical Research” is outsourced from the faculty and reports direct to the university president as an independent institution.

Das Bild zeigt die Vorderseite eines Buches mit der Aufschrift „Hans Küng, Josef van Ess, Heinrich von Stietencron, Heinz Bechert, Christentum und Welt-religionen, Islam, Hinduismus, Buddhismus“ des Piper Verlags.

1984

The book “Christianity and the World Religions: Paths of Dialogue with Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism” marks the beginning of the Global Ethic Project. In the book, Hans Küng comprehensively deals with Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism for the first time (a volume on Chinese religions was to follow in 1999). Küng’s thesis “No Peace Among Nations Without Peace Between Religions,” which was to become the slogan of the Global Ethic Project, can be found in the epilogue of this book.

The further life story of Hans Küng is inseparable
from the history of the Global Ethic Foundation.