German Version

March 30th 1984 - Rahner Karl
† in Innsbruck

Karl was born on March 5th 1904 in Freiburg, Breisgau. The family had seven children. At an age of eighteen, after the final examination, he entered on April 20the 1922 in Feldkirch(Vorarlberg) the Society of Jesus. He followed his older brother Hugo (born on May 3rd 1900), who had joined the Order on January 11th 1919. He completed first the usual studies, namely three years philosophy in Pullach near Munich, and four years theology in Valkenburg (the Netherlands). At an age of twenty eight he was ordained priest in Munich, St Michael on July 26th 1932.

After special studies with Martin Heidegger in Freiburg, he was concerned in detail with the writings of Joseph Maréchal († 1944), the Belgian Jesuit and professor of philosophy in Louvain. In 1936 he took his doctor's degree in theology in Innsbruck, and in the next year he qualified as university lecturer. He lectured now at the theological faculty of the University of Innsbruck until the break by the abolition of the faculty by the Nazi Regime.

In 1964 he became the successor of Romano Guardini on the chair for Christian world view and philosophy of religion in Munich. In 1967 he followed a call for the chair of dogmatic and dogma history to Münster. After his retirement in 1973 he was active as an honorary professor for border questions of theology and philosophy at the Order's University for Philosophy in Munich. In 1982 he moved to the Innsbruck Jesuit College.

Karl Rahner is reckoned among the greatest theologians of the twentieth century. Theology and religiosity of our time have been moulded by his thinking. More than 4000 publications of Rahner have been translated into all European languages, parts of them into Japanese, Korean or Braille. He got honours and honours as only few people. Fourteen honorary doctor degrees were given to him in Europe and the USA. He was member of the International Theologian Commission in Rome, the Faith Commission of the German Bishops' Conference and the synod of the dioceses of Germany. He was member of the highest scientific committee of the Federal Republic of Germany, of the Order Pour le mérite, and of the British Academy.

Destined by Pope John XXIII, Rahner took part as council theologian and peritus in the Vaticanum II. His whole thinking and working are inseparably connected with the new awakening at the council. He had taken into consideration many statements of the council and was involved in their accomplishment.

Beside his theological works his religious writings bear a directly affecting witness of his personal devoutness. His effort was to serve people by the message of science. So his theology could become a liberating and enchanting experience for many. Many treasures of the church teaching have become shining again by him. Since his faith teaching was always also faith testimony, Rahner was looked for and loved by many people.

Karl Rahner is without doubt one of the most important theologians of the twentieth century. He has strongly shaped today's theology. His bibliography held already 1975 more than 2000 titles.

In 1984, in the year of his death, his book 'Gebete des Lebens' (Prayers of Life) appeared. There one reads: 'I wait, o God, in patience and hope. I wait like a blind man to whom one promises the rising of the light.' And to his Golden Order Anniversary he said: 'So I too would like it to go on pilgrimage with this church, in its faith and with its sacraments, and with its grace toward God's eternity, in which there is no longer such a thing as a church, but into which God is gathering all beings whom he is loving.'

Only a few weeks after the completion of his eightieth birthday Father Karl Rahner died in Innsbruck. On April 4th he was buried in the tomb of the Jesuit Church there.


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