Institute of the Weltethos Foundation
at the University of Tübingen

First slide

Hans Küng and his Global Ethic Project

An evaluation of the obituaries on the death of Hans Küng on April 06, 2021

Hans Küng passed away on April 06, 2021 at the age of 93. The death was followed by a large number of obituaries in German (taz, Zeit Online, Süddeutsche, der Tagesspiegel, der Spiegel, etc.) as well as international media (New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, NZZ, etc.). The articles traced Küng’s life. Küng as a man who knew and represented his values. The focus in many of the obituaries is on his role in the Catholic Church and, not least, the revocation of his teaching license as a theology professor in 1971. Centrally, his work “Infallible? An Inquiry,” which preceded the revocation of his teaching license (tagesschau, 04/06/2021). The dispute with the Church, which helped him to achieve great notoriety, led to the fact that “some scholars viewed Dr. Küng as the most serious threat to the Catholic Church since Martin Luther” (Washington Post, 08.04.2021). His fame enabled “him to set up a foundation called “Weltethos”” (Welt, 06.04.2021). He founded this project to advance his idea of a peaceful world. His principle can be summarized as follows: “No peace between nations without peace among religions. No peace between religions without dialogue.” (taz, 06.04.2021). “In the end, Küng’s global ethic leads straight to the revolutionary power centers of the Enlightenment and – thus closing the circle – of Christianity: humanity, justice, honesty and above all reciprocity. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you …” (Süddeutsche Zeitung, 07.04.2021). To reduce him to a critic of the Pope and the Church would not do justice to Hans Küng, according to his longtime companion and former president of the Global Ethic Foundation, Professor Karl-Josef Kuschel. “He was, after all, not only a theologian in the narrower sense (…), he was also a critic of the times, a diagnostician of the times, who succeeded in providing important accents for the diagnosis of the times from the center of his Christian convictions.” In this context, he thinks of Küng’s arguments with capitalism, the economic ethos or those with the natural sciences, describes the theologian from Tübingen in an audio interview (SWR 2, 07.04.2021). According to an article in the FAZ, the economy was also central to Küng’s project: “He spoke out in favor of the social market economy.” (FAZ, 08.04.2021). The founding of the Global Ethic Institute in 2011, Küng saw as the recognition of his work. “”Not least because my years are numbered and I would like my life’s work to continue after my death,” Küng said at the time” (Der Tagesspiegel, 04/06/2021). “That his spirit lives on is vouched for not only by his writings, but also by the Global Ethic Project, with which Hans Küng articulated an idea whose future is just dawning,” writes Claus Dierksmeier in his obituary (philosophie Magazin, 04/07/2021). In concluding remarks, Gregor Dotzauer pays tribute to Küng as someone who “left neither friend nor foe cold. Only the very great can claim that.” (Der Tagesspiegel, 04/06/2021). In his private obituary, theologian Karl-Josef Kuschel writes about the future of Küng’s legacy: “And in times when the Trumps, the Putins, and the Erdogans are in power and dividing nations again, the global ethic agenda is anything but done. It will remain explosive in the future. A Global Ethic Institute in Tübingen and especially the “Global Ethic Foundation” will keep Küng’s legacy alive and adapt it to new challenges.”

Press review
Lucas Wiegelmann, Welt (04/06/2021): The convertible preacher.

“Someday he will be so famous that he will be able to set up a foundation called “Global Ethic.” Instead of the inner-church pettiness, it is to advance the dialogue of religions that is crucial for peace. That is the yardstick now: the future of the planet, not some footnotes in some Christology tracts.”
Wilhelm Triebold, Schwäbisches Tagblatt (04/06/2021): Hans Küng: A Guard Swiss in the Forecourt to Heaven

“The theologian and institute founder Hans Küng died yesterday, Tuesday, at the age of 93.”
“The global ethic he took up was in this respect an idea as megalomaniacal as it was sensible: but also, as German President and global ethic speaker Frank-Walter Steinmeier noted two years ago in Tübingen, as “often small-scale work on understanding and peace.””
Roger Haight, America (04/06/2021): Hans Küng, influential Vatican II theologian censured by John Paul II, dies at 93

“After being disowned by the papacy as a Catholic spokesperson in the early days of St. John Paul II’s pontificate, he flourished again as an organic intellectual of the world by mediating among religions and stimulating a global ethic.”
Bernhard Lang, NZZ (06.04.2021) Hans Küng is dead: from a theologian of the Catholic churches he became a theologian of the world – although his mission failed

“All world religions, that was Küng’s firm conviction, could find a positive relationship to modernity, all could be united by a “global ethic”, for the research of which the “Global Ethic Foundation” as well as the university “Global Ethic Institute” had been founded in Tübingen.”
Taz (04/06/2021): theologian Hans Küng is dead

“Throughout his life he urged politics, church and science to a comprehensive change of consciousness. Models for a peaceful 21st century sought his foundation “Global Ethic”. Within this framework, he tirelessly preached his simple formula since the 1980s: No peace among nations without peace among religions. No peace among religions without dialogue.”
Claus Dierksmeier, philosophie Magazin (07.04.2021): a broad, cosmopolitan spirit

“That his spirit lives on is vouched for not only by his writings but also by the Global Ethic Project, with which Hans Küng articulated an idea whose future is just dawning.”
Matt Schudel, The Washington Post (09.04.2021): Hans Küng, Catholic theologian who challenged papal authority, dies at 93

“After retiring as a professor in 1995, Dr. Küng established the Global Ethic Foundation, which seeks to promote understanding across cultures and religions. His admirers included former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu.”
Christian Geyer, FAZ (07.04.2021): The defuser of world religions.

Global ethic is not mentioned
Lothar Schröder, RP Online (07.04.2021): God save the Küng.

“Out of this realization the still current “Global Ethic Project” was born. It was and wanted to be boundless and resulted in those three very simple, but hard to refute principles: No peace among nations without peace among religions. No peace among religions without dialogue among religions. And no dialogue between religions without basic research in religions.”
FAZ (08.04.2021): Hans Küng died.

“In February 1990, at the invitation of Forum founder Klaus Schwab, he explored in a lecture the question: “Why do we need global ethical standards to survive?” It was the starting signal for the Global Ethic project that occupied Küng in the last decades of his life. “A world epoch, which unlike any previous one is characterized by world politics, world technology, world economy and world civilization, needs a global ethic,” Küng said in 1993. In the same year, the Parliament of the World’s Religions spoke out in favor of the Declaration on a Global Ethic drafted by Hans Küng. Representatives of all world religions thus agreed on values that unite humanity.”
“Küng didn’t leave it at declarations; he kept in touch with business. “The economy was central to the Global Ethic project from the very beginning,” Küng later wrote. He spoke out in favor of the social market economy.”

Stefan Kornelius, Süddeutsche Zeitung (07.04.2021): The Political One

“In his second creative phase, Küng pushed the revolutionary claim toward universal theology, toward a global ethic, and toward nothing less than the tools for a world peace. So what is it that could unite humanity? What values do the great religions of the earth share? And shouldn’t an understanding, an ethical canon, lead to something unheard of: world peace?”

“In the end, Küng’s global ethic leads straight to the revolutionary power centers of the Enlightenment and – thus closing the circle – of Christianity: humanity, justice, honesty and above all reciprocity. What you don’t want done to you …”


Deutschlandfunk (04/07/2021): Broad tribute to the late theologian Küng.

“The “Global Ethic Project” launched by Küng paid tribute to the theologian as a visionary. He had worked for decades to promote responsibility in business and peace between cultures with the global ethic idea.”
Jüdische Allgemeine (07.04.2021): disputatious admonisher

“”Hans Küng was a very important voice of interreligious dialogue. Like hardly anyone else, with his ‘Global Ethic’ project, he campaigned for an internationally binding ethical-moral basis that should apply to all people,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Ahrens, a member of the Orthodox Rabbinical Conference of Germany.”
“Küng, one of the world’s most renowned theologians and founder of the Global Ethic Foundation, had died at noon Tuesday at his home in Tübingen, Germany, at age 93. In the past 30 years, Küng was primarily committed to the dialogue of the world’s religions, especially in the “Global Ethic Project.” In 1979, the Vatican had withdrawn his teaching license, among other things because of his criticism of the doctrine of papal infallibility. The scholar received many awards, including more than a dozen honorary doctorates.”

Der Tagesspiel (04/06/2021): founder of the Global Ethic Foundation theologian Hans Küng is dead

“He described the founding of a corresponding institute at the University of Tübingen in 2011 as a recognition of this work. “Not least because my years are numbered and I would like my life’s work to continue after my death,” Küng said at the time. Behind the project is the conviction that without peace among religions there can be no peace among states.”
SWR (06.04.2021) Church critic Hans Küng deceased in Tübingen.

“He described the founding of a corresponding institute at the University of Tübingen in 2011 as a recognition of this work. “Not least because my years are numbered and I want my life’s work to be continued after my death,” Küng said at the time.”
Philipp Gessler, Spiegel.de (04/07/2021): the infallible pope critic

“The idea of the Global Ethic Project, no peace without peace between religions, is as simple as it is true. And prescient. For this was long before 9/11, long before the persecution of Muslims by Hindus or Jews by Muslims, to hint at just a few of the world’s religious conflicts.”
Margot Käßmann, Zeit Online (07.04.2021): Prophet of Church Criticism

“The point is that religions are no longer a factor in aggravating conflicts, but make a genuine contribution to defusing conflicts, to reconciliation. Hans Küng has left such a vision with the Global Ethic Foundation. That is a tremendous lifetime achievement.”
Ulrich Pick, tagesschau (06.04.2021): A pious rebel and reformer

“Peace among peoples and states would only be possible if religions and denominations were reconciled, according to the central thesis of the project.”
ZDF (04/06/2021): Theologian Hans Küng died.

“In the past 30 years, he was primarily committed to the dialogue of the world’s religions, especially in the “Global Ethic Project.” He described the founding of a corresponding institute at the University of Tübingen in 2011 as a recognition of this work.”
Gregor Dotzauer, Der Tagesspiegel (04/06/2021): Without religious peace, no world peace.

“The crowning achievement of his life’s journey, which was certainly not based on false modesty, however, became the Global Ethic project, which began in 1990 with the programmatic paper of the same name. Küng could rightly imagine world peace only as religious peace. Knowing that especially the monotheistic religions develop violent traits, he worked out in three books, besides a revised “Christianity”, “Islam” and “Judaism”.”
“[…]he has left neither friend nor foe cold. Only the very great can claim that.”
Peter Stanford, The Guardian (08.04.2021): Hans Küng obituary

“On his retirement in 1996, he established the Stiftung Weltethos/Global Ethic Foundation at Tübingen to promote co-operation and dialogue between the faiths around the world.”
Douglas Martin, The New York Times (04/06/2021): Hans Küng, Catholic Theologian Critical of the Church, Dies at 93

“Two years later he founded and led the Global Ethic Foundation, a research and teaching organization associated with the University of Tübingen that aims to promote ethical values worldwide and foster dialogue among religions and cultures.”


Jan Feddersen, taz (04/07/2021): A Catholic of the Future.

„In den vergangenen Dekaden kümmerte er sich um Dinge, die weit über Tübingen hinaus wiesen, etwa mit der von ihm gegründeten Stiftung Weltethos, dem tapferen Versuch, so etwas wie eine globale Ethik für alle Religionen zu formulieren – und im früheren UN-Generalsekretär Kofi Annan fand er für dieses Projekt seinen engsten Fellow und Freund.“


Karl-Josef Kuschel, SWR 2 (07.04.2021): Verzweiflung über die verschleuderte Glaubwürdigkeit der Kirche

„Nun er war ja nicht nur im engeren Sinne Theologe. Sein Werk umfasst ja sehr, sehr viel mehr. Er war ja auch ein Zeitkritiker, ein Zeitdiagnostiker, dem es gelungen ist aus der Mitte der Theologie heraus, auch aus der Mitte seiner christlichen Überzeugungen wichtige Akzente zur Diagnose der Zeit zu liefern. Wenn ich da an seine Auseinandersetzung mit dem Kapitalismus denke – Wirtschaftsethos, wenn ich an seine Auseinandersetzungen mit den Naturwissenschaften denke – sein großer Vorstoß zum Dialog mit Technik und Naturwissenschaft, oder wenn ich an seine Parole denke (…) ‘Kein Weltfrieden ohne Religionsfrieden’ und der Religionsfrieden geht nicht ohne Religionsdialog. Das sind ja wichtige Akzente, die er als public intellectual, also als öffentlicher Intellektueller gesetzt hat, weit über (…) die Theologie hinaus.”

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