Tag Archives: Sr Sara Butler

Theological commission defines role of sensus fidei in Church

A high powered theological commission, the International Theological Commission (ITC) gave a detailed definition to what Catholics mean when they say they have, or employ, a sensus fidei in Church life. Over the last decades various meanings have surfaced, and not all of them are correct. The ITC has stated in another place, “Catholic theology speaks the truth in love, so that the faithful may mature in faith, and not be ‘tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine.’” 

The focus of Sensus Fidei in the Life of the Church historical method identifies (discerns) the authentic contributions to the sensus fidei, by two criteria: conformity to the apostolic tradition and active participation.

Concluding the 85th session of the The International Theological Commission, released a new document . “Sensus Fidei in the Life of the Church” deals with the role of sensus fidei (the sense of the faithful) in the Church. There was one American on the sub commission that produced the “Sensus Fidei, Sister Sara Butler, M.S.B.T. (a former professor of mine).

The Catholic understanding of the sensus fidei “does not consist solely or necessarily in the consensus of the faithful. Following Christ, the Church seeks the truth, which is not always the same as the majority opinion. The Church values sociological and statistical research when it proves helpful in understanding the historical context in which pastoral action has to be developed and when it leads to a better understanding of the truth. Such research alone, however,” he insists, “is not to be considered in itself an expression of the sense of faith.” That was Pope John Paul II said. His successor the emeritus Pope Benedict XVI taught, “It is particularly important today to clarify the criteria used to distinguish the authentic sensus fidelium from its counterfeits. In fact, it is not some kind of public opinion of the Church, and it is unthinkable to mention it in order to challenge the teachings of the Magisterium, this is because the sensus fidei cannot grow authentically in the believer except to the extent in which he or she fully participates in the life of the Church, and this requires a responsible adherence to her Magisterium.”

As a technical term, sensus fidei describes the our ability as members of the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church, to discern how the Gospel of Jesus Christ is lived. The document’s works with with the survey sent to national episcopal conferences on the Synod of the Family.

America’s Voice in the World’s New Evangelization

The Holy See has appointed 45 persons as Experts and Observers for the forthcoming Thirteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, 7 to 28 October on the theme: “The new evangelization for the transmission of the Christian faith.”

While they are not the full members of the Synod of Bishops (they’re not bishops) these people do have an essential role in that they will contribute to the conversation and will help to frame the outcome. Noteworthy are the number of women invited: 10 experts and 19 observers.

There will be seven US bishops and ten other Americans at the Synod.

The is the list of non-bishops from the Americas which ought to be noted (more noted here):

Sr. Sara Butler M.S.B.T., professor, St. Mary of the Lake University, Mundelein, and member of the International Theological Commission

Sr. Paula Jean Miller F.S.E., professor, Department of Theology of the University of St. Thomas, Houston

Sr. Mary Lou Wirtz F.C.J.M., president of the International Union of Superiors General

Marylee J. Meehan, president of the International Catholic Committee of Nurses and Medico-Social Assistants

Fr. Jeremy Driscoll O.S.B., professor, Theological Faculty of Rome’s St. Anselm Pontifical Athenaeum, and professor, Mount Angel Seminary, St. Benedict, OR

Edward Peters, professor, Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit

Ralph Martin, director of graduate theological programs in the new evangelization at the Sacred Heart Seminary, Detroit

Carl Albert Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus

Curtis A. Martin, founder and president of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students – Focus Missionaries

Peter Murphy, executive director of the Secretariat fo Evangelization and Catechesis, US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Consultors for the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization named by Pope today

Today, Pope Benedict XVI appointed as consultors of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization the following:

  • Fr. Francois-Xavier Dumortier, S.J., rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University;
  • Fr. Pierangelo Sequeri, vice rector and professor of Fundamental Theology at the Theological Faculty of Northern Italy and lecturer in Aesthetics of the Holy at the Academy of Fine Arts in  Brera, Milan;
  • Sr. Sara Butler, M.S.B.T., professor of dogmatic theology at Mundelein Seminary;
  • Sr. Mary Lou Wirtz, F.C.J.M., general superior of the Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary and president of the Union of Superior Generals (UISG);
  • Dr. Chiara Amirante, founder and president of the New Horizons Association of the diocese of Anagni-Alatri, Italy;
  • Mr. Kiko Arguello, a co-initiator of the Neo-Catechumenal Way;
  • Prof. Lucetta Scaraffia, professor of contemporary history in the Faculty of Letters and Philosophy at “La Sapienza” University.
  • The list of cardinals and bishops who will be advisors to Archbishops Rino Fisichella and José Octavio Ruiz Arenas can be seen here (they were announced some time ago).
    Assemblying this new pontifical council has been very slow. The address of the offices and websites have yet to be made known! Communications and members of the consultors should been, in common estimation, ought to have been done more quickly. The presence of two American sisters, one of whom was a professor of mine, is noteworthy. You can’t get much better than Sister Sara Butler. Plus, I am elated that Fathers Julián Carrón,  Pascual Chavez Villanueva and Fernando Ocariz are on this list. Perhaps a few more North and South American laity could have been appointed. But that will come in time.

John Paul II and the Development of a “New Feminism”

Sr Sara Butler.jpgThe April 2010 issue of Inside the Vatican (18:4) published a special commemorative issue observing the papal death of John Paul II and the papal election of Benedict XVI. The editor asked various people to write their memories of one of the popes. Sister Sara Butler, MSBT, a professor of dogmatic theology at St Joseph’s Seminary -Dunwoodie, New York, offered her thoughts on Pope John Paul’s contribution to feminist thinking. Sister Sara is a published author and a member of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue and the International Theological Commission. Sister remembers:

Looking back over the papacy of the Servant of God John Paul II, I find myself especially grateful for the initiative he took in addressing the feminist critique. The Pope did this in his Letter to Women (1995), his apostolic letter On the Dignity and Vocation of Women (Mulieris dignitatem, 1988), and his ground-breaking catecheses on the “theology of the body.” He not only acknowledged the positive contributions of feminist scholarship and offered needed clarifications and correctives in response to their objections; he also spelled out his own appreciation of the “genius” of women and took steps to promote their increased participation in the Church and in the social order. Since the Pope’s death, we are already beginning to see the fruits of his recommendation that Catholic women undertake to develop a “new feminism,” consistent with Catholic doctrine (Evangelium vitae, par 99). In my opinion , it is hard to overestimate the contribution Pope John Paul II made to meeting this contemporary challenge.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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