Catholic-Reformed Dialogue

(VIDEO) The Catholic Priesthood: Why Is It Reserved to Men? Catholic-Reformed Dialogue with Sr. Sara Butler and Dr. Jim Brownson


Talk and Catholic-Reformed Dialogue
with Sr. Sara Butler and Dr. Jim Brownson

The Catholic Church “has no authority to confer priestly ordination on women.” Such was the solemn declaration of Pope St. John Paul II and the beginning of the argument Sister Sara Butler made at Hope College in a lecture on Thursday, January 26, 2017 at 7 p.m. in Winants Auditorium in Graves Hall at Hope College. Sr. Sara Butler argued that the unbroken tradition of the Catholic Church is not discrimination against women but related to the doctrine of Holy Orders as a sacrament.  Dr. Jim Brownson of Western Theological Seminary provided a response.

Sister Sara Butler, M.S.B.T., Ph.D., S.T.L. is Professor Emeritus of Dogmatic Theology at the University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein, IL.  Sister Sara has served on the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission and the International Theological Commission (a papal appointment).  She is past president of the Academy of Catholic Theology and is currently a consultant to the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Doctrine Committee.  She is the author of many scholarly articles and of The Catholic Priesthood: A Guide to the Teaching of the Church (Hillenbrand Books, 2007).

Dr. Jim Brownson is the James and Jean Cook Professor of New Testament at Western Theological Seminary (Holland, MI), where he teaches courses on Scripture, church governance, and women's ordination. He’s the author of several books, including most recently Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church’s Debate on Same-Sex Relationships (Eerdmans, 2013). 

The event was co-sponsored by Western Seminary and the Departments of Religion and Women's and Gender Studies at Hope College.

On January 26, 2017, Sr. Sara Butler spoke on "The Catholic Priesthood: Why Is It Reserved to Men?" Dr. Jim Brownson responded. This event was part of the Saint Benedict Institute Catholic-Reformed Dialogue series.

Ecumenical Dialogue: What Does It Mean to Be Catholic? (VIDEO)

what does it mean catholic pic
what does it mean catholic pic

On January 28, 2016, the Saint Benedict Forum hosted a Catholic-Reformed Dialogue about Jack Mulder's new book, What Does It Mean to Be Catholic?(Eerdmans, 2015).  Dr. Mulder's book is the meditation of a Hope College professor and convert to Catholicism from the Reformed tradition.  It was written as an effort to practice robust ecumenism, the idea that different Christian groups should share the distinctive gifts of their own tradition as they walk together toward full Christian unity.

Two Reformed scholars offered generous, yet critical responses to Dr. Mulder's book.  Han-luen Kantzer Komline, Assistant Professor of Church History and Theology at Western Theological Seminary, took up the question of the relationship between Scripture and Tradition.  Lynn Japinga, Associate Professor of Religion at Hope College, challenged Mulder on Mary, development of doctrine, women's ordination, and contraception.  Dr. Mulder responded to each presenter.

This event was co-sponsored by the Philosophy and Religion Departments, Campus Ministries, Center for Ministry Studies, Lilly Group on Robust Ecumenism, the Office of the Provost, and the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

Eduardo Echeverria Discusses Catholic-Reformed Dialogue


On March 5th, Eduardo J. Echeverria, Professor of Philosophy and Theology at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit and a leading voice in Catholic-Reformed dialogue, delivered a lecture entitled “Catholic and Reformed Ecumenism: Basis, Boundaries, and Benefits.” Echeverria, a scholar of the Dutch Reformed theologian G.C. Berkouwer (1903-1996), gave a fascinating presentation on Berkouwer’s developing views on the Catholic Church. He also used Berkouwer’s position to illustrate the parameters of Catholic-Reformed dialogue. Mark Husbands, the Leonard and Marjorie Maas Professor of Reformed Theology at Hope College, offered a response, which generated a fruitful and challenging discussion.

Leading up to the event, scholars at Hope met together over a series of meals to discuss Vatican II’s Unitatis Redintegratio and Berkouwer’s The Second Vatican Council and the New Catholicism. This facilitated a friendly and lively exchange between members of the two traditions. Following Echeverria’s talk, this same group met together to continue the dialogue. The Saint Benedict Forum will continue to host events in Catholic-Reformed dialogue to deepen this important conversation between the College’s founding tradition and the Catholic Church.