Around a third of all Catholic theology professors at universities in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, on Friday called for reforms to the Catholic Church, according to a report in the German daily "Süddeutsche Zeitung".
"It looks like we struck a nerve," said Judith Könemann a professor from Münster and one of 144 signatories of the declaration.
The professors said that they no longer wanted to stay quiet in the face of child sex abuse scandals that came to light last year and plunged the Catholic Church into an unprecedented crisis.
The theologians want to start an open dialogue about the future of the Catholic Church.
"We have the responsibility, to contribute to a new start," the undersigned text said
They called for an end to compulsory celibacy, and for women to be allowed into the priesthood. The theologians also called for the Catholic laity to have more say in the selection of bishops.
There hasn't been a comparable revolt by theologians since 1989 when more than 220 academics signed the "Cologne Declaration", which protested against the authoritarian leadership style of the late Pope, John Paul II.
Author: Natalia Dannenberg (AFP, dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Rob Turner