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First for women

VATICAN CITY (CNS): For the first time, Pope John Paul II has named women to the Vatican’s International Theological Commission.

One of the two women appointees is Sr Sara Butler, 65, a member of the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity, who teaches dogmatic theology at New York archdiocese’s St Joseph’s Seminary.

The other is a German lay woman, Barbara Hallensleben, who teaches dogmatic theology at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. She has written on religion and culture in Eastern Europe.

The appointments were announced at the Vatican on March 6.

Both women have been involved in ecumenism. Sr Butler has been a member of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, and Ms Hallensleben has worked on Catholic-Orthodox issues.

Swiss Cardinal Georges Cottier, who is a retired secretary-general of the commission and the official papal theologian, said the naming of women to the commission was an important development.

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