Johannes Gründel (1929–2015) and a human-friendly moral theology
On 16th March 2015 died Johannes Gründel, retired professor for moral theology at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich and a priest in e little parish in Freising-Hohenbachern. He was born on 13th May 1929 as the third child from fourth children in a farmer family in Ullersdorf near Glatz in Lower Silesia. After the Second World War was his family displaced to Melle near Osnabruck in West Germany. He continued his school-learning at the Gymnasium in Munster and 1947 he began his study in philosophy and theology at the new High school in Königstein and than in Munich.
On 28th September 1952 he became a priest for the his maternal diocese Glatz-Prag and began the pastoral work in the parish in Montabaur and than in Bad Homburg in the diocese Limburg. After few years he went to Rome to continue the study in theology at the Papal University Gregoriana and to prepare his doctorate in moral theology. Gründel wrote the dissertation about the significance of circumstances for the evaluation of human attitude in the earl medieval thought and became on 30th April 1963 the doctorate for moral theology at the University of Munich. Three years later he became habilitation in moral theology about virtue-teaching by Radulfus Ardens. In December 1968 became Gründel a Professor for moral theology at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich.
The begin of his work as theologian converged with the publication of the document of Paul VI. Humanae vitae. His position war not to polarize in this hot discusses theme, but to look for agreement between different positions in the question of contraception. Gründel’s position was to take positive fundamental contents into the foreground and the decision about use of the contraceptives to leave to the decision of conscience of individual persons. In the academic year 1971–1972 was Gründel decant of the Faculty for Theology in Munich. He was Professor for moral theology till his retire in 1997. At the same time was Gründel since 1972 employed in the pastoral service in a little parish in Freising-Hohenbachern. This pastoral-practical activity influenced his theoretical works, studies and positions. He understand the theological ethics not as massage of threat, but as a massage of joy and so he underlined the positive significance of the human freedom, of the solidarity and of the self-responsibility. He understand the change in the moral theology after the Second Vatican Council as a way from the moral of law to the ethics of responsibility. He wrote in his book Normen im Wandel: „The best state is not this, which has the most legal laws; the best government is not this, which gives the most regulations, but this, which wakes the highest measure of self-responsibility and protect the free field for such self-responsibility“ (München 1980, p. 27).
Gründel is author of many publications about the history of moral theology, relations between faith and reason, theory and praxis, receive and given. Many of them are translated into Spanish, Portuguese and Polish. He is promoter of about thirty doctorates and tree habilitations. For his engagement by the foundation of study-course for orthodox theology at the University of Munich he became the doctor honoris causa degree of the University of Athens in Greece. In Germany was r Gründel espected not only in the theologian spheres, but also as competent expert of modern questions in the public opinion. He had many contacts with polish moral theologians and become involved for the human rights in the world. In the field of moral theology is he a most profiled representative of the Christian ethics of responsibility.