(RNS) — Hans Küng, the contentious Roman Catholic theologian who died at 93 on Tuesday (April 6), once explained his combative nature by pointing out that he was Swiss.

“I come from the land of William Tell and we weren’t brought up to be subservient,” he said. “Why should we always crawl? Standing tall suits a theologian too.”

Küng paid dearly for that independence, being stripped of his right to teach Catholic theology by St. John Paul II and repeatedly frustrated in his efforts to reform the tradition-bound Vatican.

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But Küng’s theology books became bestsellers, his articles were printed around the world and his causes — such as abolishing priestly celibacy, challenging papal infallibility and

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