The Saint Benedict Institute will explore “The Catholic Priesthood: Why Is It Reserved for Men?” on Thursday, Jan. 26, at 7 p.m. in Winants Auditorium of Graves Hall at Hope College.

The public is invited.  Admission is free.

Pope St. John Paul II once declared that the Catholic Church “has no authority to confer priestly ordination on women.”  Sister Sara Butler will argue 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 will provide 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, Illinois.  She 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 is being co-sponsored by Western Seminary and the Department of Religion and the Women’s and Gender Studies program at Hope College.

The Saint Benedict Institute is a ministry of St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Holland. It seeks to promote and nurture intellectual work done from the heart of the Catholic Church, to foster an ecumenical community of Catholic Christians and friends committed to the renewal of culture, and to aid in the formation of intellectually and spiritually mature Christians by making available the riches of the Catholic tradition to Hope College and the wider community. More information can be found at

Graves Hall is located at 263 College Ave., between 10th and 12th streets.