SACRED CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH
The Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in executing its task of fostering and protecting the doctrine of the faith and the practices of the entire Church, has placed under examination two works of Professor Küng, Die Kirche (The Church) and Unfehlbar? Eine Anfrage (Infallible? An Inquiry) which have been published in many languages. By two different letters, dated respectively May 6, 1971 and July 12, 1971, the Congregation notified the author about difficulties which it found in his views and asked him to explain in writing how such views were not contradictions of Catholic doctrine. In a letter of July 4, 1973, the Congregation offered Prof. Küng a second chance to explain his own ideas in a discussion. In a letter of his of September 4, 1974, Prof. Küng put aside this possibility, too. By his responses, moreover, he did not prove that certain opinions concerning the Church do not contradict Catholic doctrine, yet he continued to uphold them even after the publication of the declaration Mysterium Ecclesiae.
Therefore, so that no doubt remains about the doctrine professed by the Catholic Church and so that the faith of Christians may not be clouded in any way, this Sacred Congregation, recalling the doctrine of the Church’s Magisterium put forth in the declaration Mysterium Ecclesiae declares:
In the above-cited works of Prof. Hans Küng, some views are found which in different degrees oppose the Catholic Church’s doctrine which must be professed by all the faithful. We note only the following which stand out, and we put aside for now a judgment on some other views which Prof. Küng defends.
The view which at least places in doubt the very dogma of faith of the Church’s infallibility or reduces it to a certain basic indefectibility of the Church in matters of truth, with the possibility of erring in decisions which the Magisterium in a definitive way teaches or believes, contradicts the doctrine defined by Vatican Council I and confirmed by Vatican Council II.
Another error which seriously prejudices the doctrine of Prof. Küng concerns his view on the Magisterium of the Church. In fact he does not adhere to the true concept of the authentic Magisterium by which the Bishops are in the Church "authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ who preach to the people committed to them the faith they must believe and put into practice" (Lumen Gentium 25); in fact "the task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on, has been entrusted exclusively to the living Magisterium of the Church" (Dei Verbum 10).
Also the view already suggested by Prof. Küng in the book Die Kirche (The Church) according to which the Eucharist, at least in cases of necessity, can be validly consecrated by baptized persons who are not ordained priests, cannot be reconciled with the doctrine of Lateran Council IV and Vatican II.
However, notwithstanding the gravity of such views, since he himself in his letter of September 4, 1974 does not entirely exclude the possibility of managing to harmonize, after an appropriate period of deep study, his own views with the doctrine of the Church’s authentic Magisterium, this Sacred Congregation, by order of the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI, for the time being admonishes Prof. H. Küng not to continue to teach such views and reminds him that ecclesiastical authority has entrusted him with the task of teaching sacred theology in the spirit of the Church’s doctrine and not, instead, views which destroy this doctrine and place it in doubt.
The Bishops in Germany and in other places where it may be particularly necessary, above all where the above-mentioned views have been upheld in theological faculties, in seminaries and in houses of Catholic or priestly instruction, are asked to take care that the faithful are suitably instructed in regard to Church doctrine, the declaration Mysterium Ecclesiae, and also in regard to the present declaration.
Priests, preachers of the gospel, teachers and catechists who teach Catholic doctrine, have the task of professing faithfully the Church’s doctrine on these questions and explaining it to others.
Finally, theologians are once again asked to deepen and clarify the mystery of the Church and the other mysteries of faith in obedience to the faith itself and for the true building up of the Church.
This Declaration, which concludes for the moment the action of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on this question, has been approved by Pope Paul VI in an Audience granted February 14, 1975 to the undersigned Prefect of the Congregation itself and was ordered published by him.
Given in Rome, at the office of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, February 15, 1975.
Franjo Cardinal Šeper
Father Jérôme Hamer, O.P.