• Swiss theologian Father Hans Küng speaks on global ethics Sept. 11 at Nazareth College's Callahan Theater.

Theologian discusses global ethics

By Jennifer Ficcaglia/Catholic Courier    |    10.06.2004
Category: Local News


In order to have peace among nations and religions, it is necessary to shift to a new paradigm of global ethics, according to the Swiss theologian Father Hans Küng.

During a Sept. 11 lecture at Nazareth College in Pittsford, Father Küng shared the ideas that have shaped his vision and theology over the past 50-plus years. His presentation, "My Long Road to a Global Ethic," was the first in a four-part lecture series called "Vision, Reality, Challenge: Vatican II, Forty Years Later," which marks the 40th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. Nazareth's William H. Shannon Chair in Catholic Studies sponsors the series.

Father Küng, who is currently president of the Global Ethic Foundation, was for many years professor of ecumenical theology and director of the Institute for Ecumenical Research at the University of Tubingen before his retirement.

During his presentation, Father Küng defined a global ethic as common ethical standards that are found in all of the world's religions. He noted that despite a big difference in doctrine among the world's religions, moral values are the same: do unto others as you would have them do unto you; treat every human in a truly human and humane way; do not kill; do not steal; do not lie; do not abuse sexuality.

Realizing that these common moral values exist in every religion -- as well as acknowledging that it is necessary to have dialogue among religions -- will help bring about peace among nations and religions, he said.

In his talk, Father Küng said people need to have a better, deeper understanding of God and realize he is in all things and everywhere, not just on high.

"Seeing God in the world and the world in God is very important," he said.

He noted that he sees God's spirit in other religions, although he does not accept the doctrine of other religions as his own faith. Even so, he said, he believes one can learn from other philosophers and religions, even if they are not Christian.

Father Küng was stripped by the Vatican of his right to teach as a Catholic theologian 25 years ago. While he made several references to his disagreement with the church on some issues, the crux of his message was that the world has a crucial need now for a system of ethics for every aspect of human society.

"(There will be) no peace among the nations without peace among the religions," he said. "And no peace among the religions without dialogue between the religions. And no dialogue among the religions without global ethical standards, and no survival of our globe in peace and justice without the new paradigm of international relations based on global ethical standards."

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