First Women Named
to International Theological Commission
For the first time in history, Pope John Paul II has named women theologians to the Vatican’s International Theological Commission. Sister Sara Butler, 65, a member of the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity, teaches dogmatic theology at the New York Archdiocese’s St. Joseph’s Seminary. Barbara Hallensleben teaches dogmatic theology at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. Both women have been involved in ecumenical discussions.
Butler is a well known conservative theologian who opposes women’s ordination. In a presentation at the October 1998 Women for Faith and Family conference, she said “radical feminism” rejects men, marriage and the family as oppressive, a description many married “radical feminist” mothers will find surprising. She described “cultural feminism” as accepting both women’s public roles according to their “special gifts” as well as the value of motherhood and the complementarity of men’s and women’s roles. She finds this compatible with the pope’s “new feminism.” Earlier in her career Butler chaired a Research Team of the Catholic Theological Society of America and wrote a summary of their findings which supported women’s ordination (available at http://www.womenpriests.org/classic2/butler.htm).