“Renegade” Episcopal Rector explains why he decided to become a Catholic priest.

The Rev. David Ousley was baptized a Methodist in 1951, was ordained a priest of the Episcopal Church in 1979, and left it in 1999 for the Anglican Church in America.

And on Saturday, this 61-year-old married father of three will make one more ecclesiastical leap: he will be ordained a priest of the Roman Catholic Church in a 11 a.m. Mass at Holy Cross Church in Mount Airy.

He is “swimming the Tiber,” as Anglicans call conversion to Catholicism — a reference to the river that runs through Rome — but the white-bearded Ousley will not emerge from his swim on some strange and foreign shore.

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Editor’s note: You don’t have to be a renegade to experience metanoia … a profound change of heart and subsequent spiritual conversion. Witness the power of God’s grace in the life of this man … and this man’s willingness to cooperate with that divine grace.

Why does the Catholic Church teach that only men may be admitted to Priestly Ordination?

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Q: Why does the Church teach that only men may be admitted to Priestly Ordination?

A: Jesus Christ asked his detractors, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?”(Mt. 9:15). With this subtlety, Our Lord indicates to his first century Jewish listeners his own identity as God, the Old Testament divine Bridegroom of Israel.

He is the Bridegroom who remains faithful, even when the Bride betrays his love (cf. Hos 1-3; Jer 2). This Old Testament prefigurement is fulfilled in the New Covenant where the Son of God takes on human flesh and draws to himself His Bride, the Church (Jn 3:29), purifying her that she may be without blemish (Eph 5: 25-27) through the water (of baptism) and the blood (of the Eucharist) flowing from his pierced side. As Eve was born from the side of Adam, so too is the Church, the Bride of Christ, born from the side of Jesus, the “new Adam” (cf. 1Co 15: 22, 45; Ro 5:14).1

With such symbolism throughout divine revelation, the Holy Spirit reveals the unfathomable mystery of God’s active and complete (nuptial) love for humanity.

Unlike most other societal roles, by the design of God, symbol is more important than function in the sacred liturgy. It thus makes sense that Jesus Christ would choose only men to be his apostles to symbolically (that is, sacramentally) re-present Him “in persona Christi,” the divine Bridegroom of His Bride the Church in sacred liturgy, and the apostles would, in turn, choose only men to be their successors, the bishops.

This in no way undermines the absolute equal personal dignity of men and women (Gaudium et spes, 29), for diversity of mission in no way compromises equal personal dignity (1 Cor 12-13).

Due to these reasons, and more, the Church recognizes herself bound by the action of the Lord Himself in calling only men to the college of Apostles. This practice was also continued by the Apostles in choosing their successors, the bishops, and continues to this day (CCC, 1577).

1 Also see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 796.

2 For a thorough analysis of this question, see: Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Inter Insigniores, 1976; and John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, 1994.

With this understanding very clearly in mind, Pope John Paul II concludes his Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis with the following: “Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed … I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.”

This Catholic Q&A was furnished by Bishop Robert Morlino of the Madison, Wisconsin diocese.