Preview | Christine Lee:You Are a Priest Forever

Christine Lee is currently a postdoctoral researcher at East China Normal University. She holds a BA and MA from the University of Cambridge, and an MRes and PhD from the University of St Andrews. Her research interests focus on race, Catholicism, history, and anthropological theory. Her previous research investigated a new generation of indigenous Catholic priests in the Peruvian Andes; her current research carries over this expertise in Catholicism and applies it to anthropological theory, interrogating the influence of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) on the anthropological study of ritual via a mid-century generation of British Catholic social anthropologists.

For the first time within living memory, the rural Roman Catholic parish of Talavera in the south-central Peruvian Andes features only native clergy. By placing the Talaveran Catholic priests in theological and historical context, this article shows how this current generation of Catholic priests in Talavera must be understood within the context of the post-Vatican II Catholic Church in Latin America, which explicitly encouraged the training of native clergy and recast the relationship between the sacramental and the human as mutually compatible and constitutive. Although such initiatives are generally associated with liberal parishes unlike Talavera, which is a markedly conservative parish, the nouvelle theology which shaped Vatican II nevertheless meant that the dual nature of the Roman Catholic priesthoodas concretely human but also ineffably sacramentalfundamentally shapes the lay relationship with the Catholic priests in the Talavera too. The resulting tension between the priest as a sacramental mediator to the divine and the priest as a human man is continually re-negotiated, and essential to understanding Catholic priests in Latin America and how lay parishioners experience the Catholic priesthood.