Hans Küng: 1928-2021

Yesterday (April 7th, 2021) in Frankfurt am Main, the team and committees of the 3rd Ecumenical Church Congress (ÖKT) mourned the loss of Hans Küng, who died on April 6th, after a long and serious illness.

Julia Helmke, General Secretary of the Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchentag, remembered him: "For decades, Prof. Hans Küng was a guest at Kirchentags and also at the first two Ecumenical Kirchentags. His stimuli, his ecumenical commitment, his interreligious vision shook us up. It was not about "reforms", but about reform and reformation. His legacy remains. I think of him with sadness and great gratitude - especially now, so shortly before the 3rd OCT."

Hans Küng was closely linked to the ideas and goals of the Ecumenical Kirchentag. He, too, advocated a critical dialogue on open questions that divided the Church, always keeping the unity of Christianity in mind as the yardstick. Before the 1st ÖKT 2003 in Berlin he campaigned for a joint communion service. At the 2nd ÖKT 2010 in Munich, he was sharply critical of the lack of willingness to reform in his own Catholic Church.

"We mourn the loss of a great ecumenist, an important theologian and a free spirit who loved the Church and wanted to change it," says Thomas Sternberg, President of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK) and the 3rd ÖKT. "Hans Küng was concerned with the church that revoked his teaching licence in 1979 - and to which he had given infinitely much before and afterwards. Despite the abrupt rejection by the church and the revocation of his teaching licence, he remained bound to it as a priest. We hope for him the appreciation of his life and work in an eternal justice. "

At the 2nd ÖKT in 2010 Hans Küng named what was important to him as the basis for his life in these words: "Trust in life. I have an ultimately well-founded and consistent trust in life." This rationally inexplicable trust provided the foundation for the brilliant ideas, the bustling creativity and the conciliatory gestures of the Tübingen scholar, who with his "Foundation Global Ethic" created a legacy that is groundbreaking for ecumenical and interreligious togetherness. "Our theoretical reasoning does not have the wings to fly beyond space and time, into eternity," said Küng, referring to his trust in God and life. The people at the Ecumenical Kirchentag remember with gratitude a great spirit and a loving brother.

(Adapted from an ÖKT press release)