*University theologians in Germany have called on the Catholic Church to abandon the vow of celibacy for priests, open up the clergy for women and accept gay couples.

The 143 professors said the church must implement bold reforms because of “a crisis without precedent” following the discovery of widespread sexual and physical abuses by clergymen a year ago.

More Christians than ever have turned their backs on the Catholic Church in the past year, they said:

“The Church has to understand these signs and move beyond its ossified structures to regain new vitality and credibility.”

The appeal, published in newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung’s Friday edition, called on the church’s leadership to stop excluding gay couples and remarried Christians.

“The Church also needs married priests and women holding positions in the clergy,” the appeal said — in clear defiance of the Vatican’s dogmas.

But Germany’s Bishops Conference on Friday cautiously welcomed the appeal, saying it could enhance the ongoing reform discussion, while noting several proposals contradicted the church’s principles.

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