Hans KungHans Kung was born in Sursee, Switzerland in 1928. In 1948 he began his studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. This enabled him to come into contact with some of the leading Catholic theologians of the day including Hans Urs von Balthasar and Yves Congar. In 1955 he was ordained to the priesthood. He continued his studies in Paris where he was awarded his theological doctorate in 1957 based on his thesis of Karl Barth’s doctrine of justification. Kung became quickly well known for his interest in ecumenism.
By 1960 he was appointed to the chair of fundamental theology at the Roman Catholic Faculty of Theology at the University of Tubingen. During the Second Vatican Council (1962-5) he was appointed an official theological advisor. Kung became the centre of the conflict between the reformers who pressed for change in the Catholic Church and the traditionalists. Kung concentrated his efforts to the question of ecclesiology.
In 1970 Kung became famous in Catholic circles for the publication of his book Infallible: An Enquiry. In it Kung refused to re-endorse the Roman Catholic Church’s insistence on its absolute authority on matters of faith. Central to which was the doctrine of papal infallibility which had been part of the official teaching of the Church since the First Vatican Council held in 1871. Kung saw it as a stumbling block to Christian unity. This resulted in Kung having his missio canonica being revoked by Pope John Paul II in 1979 leaving him unable to teach in any Catholic establishment in Germany. Kung subsequently moved to the independent Institute for Ecumenical Research at the University of Tubingen.