Swiss Roman Catholic theologian, whose doubts about current Vatican teaching led Pope John Paul II to ban him from teaching theology.
Born near Lucerne, Küng was educated at the Gregorian University in Rome and at the Sorbonne in Paris. He was ordained a priest in 1954 and taught theology at the University of Tubingen in Germany from 1960 until 1996. Küng's numerous publications include critical evaluations of the theology of his Protestant countryman Karl Barth, books on the links between Christianity and other world religions, and, more recently, expositions of ethics for a global era.
Küng's speculations on the nature of authority within the Roman Catholic Church proved stimulating during the papacy of John XXIII and exerted a considerable influence on the thinking of the Second Vatican Council. His most famous single work is probably On Being a Christian (1976). Küng's doubts concerning such received Roman Catholic doctrines as papal infallibility, the necessity for clerical celibacy, and the ban on artificial contraception led the Vatican to withdraw his licence to teach as a Catholic theologian in 1979, although he has remained director of Tübingen's Institute of Ecumenical Research. In 1998 he openly called for the resignation of Pope John Paul II and the convening of a Third Vatican Council. Küng has received numerous honorary doctorates as well as the Oskar Pfister award of the American Psychiatric Association (1986).