[Sister Sara Butler is professor of dogmatic theology at St. Joseph's Seminary in New York, and teaches in the areas of Christology, sacramental theology especially holy orders and theological hermeneutics. She writes on the theology of priesthood and the renewal of religious life.

Sister Butler has served on national and international ecumenical commissions and is presently a consultant to the U.S. Roman Catholic Bishops' Doctrine Committee. In 2004 Pope John Paul II appointed her to the International Theological Commission which meets annually in Rome, and Pope Benedict XVI appointed her as an "expert" for the Synod of Bishops in Rome in October, 2008. She have published many essays in theological journals to contribute to the resolution of questions that trouble the faithful.

Polls generally show that 50 percent to 60 percent of Roman Catholics in the United States believe that women should be eligible for the priesthood.

Sister Butler understands this impulse, because she once felt the same way. In 1978, she headed a task force of the Catholic Theological Society of America that came out in support of female priests.

But she says that as she continued her work as an increasingly prominent theologian, her thinking began to change. She has written a book - "The Catholic Priesthood and Women: A Guide to the Teaching of the Church" which explains to doubters and skeptics who think as she used to, why the Christian priesthood is male.

Sister Butler says, "The tradition is traced to the will of Christ, not to decisions made by the church." She also says that the Church's teachings must be better explained, because many Catholics see the all-male priesthood as a symbol of patriarchal power and sexism, and many more who stay silent are probably befuddled.

"Their confidence in the church's teaching authority has been badly eroded," she said.]

Is it still an issue? (2007)

From Theological Studies Number 56 (1995)