The National Catholic Reporter says the theologians have expressed support for a call from Tubingen emeritus professor of dogmatic theology, Professor Peter Hunermann, who called for an "intelligent restructuring" of the Vatican doctrinal agency.
Professor Hunermann published his proposal in a German theological journal titled Herder Korrispondenz, in response to the recent critical notification from the congregation on two works by the Jesuit liberation theologian Fr Sobrino.
Among those who have backed Professor Hunermann's position are prominent German theologians such as Johann Baptist Metz, Dietmar Mieth, Bernd Jochen Hilberath and Otmar Fuchs. The response from German theologians was reported by the Italian news agency Adista.
In terms of church politics, many of these theologians would broadly be considered "left of centre", according to the Reporter.
After criticising the notification on Fr Sobrino, Professor Hunermann offered a set of general observations about the congregation, arguing that since the middle of the 19th century it has been responsible for a series of "serious conflicts that are damaging to the image of the church and to its journey of faith".
For one thing, Professor Hunermann asserted, deficiencies in the theological preparation of personnel in the doctrinal congregation sometimes "aggravate the conflicts".
More deeply, however, Professor Hunermann said the real problem lies with the congregation's mentality.
"At bottom, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - the successor to the Holy Office - has preserved the structure of a censor's office, which it had at the beginning of the modern era."
By way of contrast, Professor Hunermann said, "the guarantee of quality in the scientific field today is structured differently: Essentially, it's a matter of collaboration with the sciences, and possibly includes scientific authorities in the decision-making procedures relative to the politics of scientific research, and in the administration of scientific discoveries.
For that reason, Professor Hunermann said, the time has come for an "intelligent restructuring" of the doctrinal congregation.
Then-Father Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, joined 1968 call for reform (Catholic Online, 20/6/07)
German theologians demand Vatican doctrine congregation 'restructuring' (Catholic Online, 20/6/07)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Jon Sobrino (Wikipedia)
We are Church
European Catholic People
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Wikipedia)
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith website
Sobrino case sparks call for CDF reform (CathNews, 8/5/07)
Sobrino right to apply Gospel to injustice, Vatican paper says (CathNews, 29/3/07)
Christ hides his divinity, Melbourne Jesuit says (CathNews, 16/3/07)
No bar for liberation theologian but work "erroneous" (CathNews, 15/3/07)
Liberation theologian to be silenced (CathNews, 13/3/07)
Liberation theologian named to key Vatican post (CathNews, 1/11/06)