Swiss author, priest and theologian Fr. Hans Küng, distraught at the state of the Catholic Church which he terms is in "sore distress," has declined an invitation to attend the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council at the German Katholikentag at Mannheim,which was held from Friday, May 18, to Sunday, May 20. The Tablet, a Catholic news weekly, notes Küng's reply:
"I was honoured to receive the invitation but is one really in the mood to celebrate at a time when the Church is in such sore distress?" Fr Küng asked in his four-page reply. "In my opinion there is no reason for a festive Council Gala but rather for an honest service of penance or a funeral service," he said.
Küng is perhaps most famous for rejecting the Catholic Church's doctrine of papal infallibility, which he discussed in his book Infallible? An Inquiry (1971). In retaliation, the Church stripped him of his missio canonica, his licence to teach as a Roman Catholic theologian, but he carried on teaching as a tenured professor of ecumenical theology at the University of Tübingen until his retirement (Emeritierung) in 1996. To this day he remains a persistent critic of papal infallibility, which he claims is man-made (and thus reversible) rather than instituted by God. He was not excommunicated ferendae sententiae (incurred only when imposed by a legitimate superior or declared as the sentence of an ecclesiastical court). He is also active in interfaith dialogue, forming Weltelthos, or the Global Ethic Foundation as a forum to discuss similiarities, rather than differences, in various faiths.