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Friday, Feb. 23, 2024
The Observer

Kellogg Institute hosts Archbishop Romero book launch

The Kellogg Institute for International Studies hosted a book launch Thursday for “Archbishop Romero and Spiritual Leadership in the Modern World,” edited by Fr. Robert S. Pelton, a Kellogg Institute faculty fellow.

Fifteen people, including Pelton, made contributions to the book. Four contributors were at the launch Thursday evening: Margaret Pfeil, associate professional specialist in the department of theology, Fr. Michael E. Connors, director of the John S. Marten program in homiletics and liturgics, Fr. Gustavo Gutiérrez, the John Cardinal O’Hara professor of theology and Thomas Kelly, professor of systematic theology at Creighton University.

Archbishop Óscar Romero, the fourth archbishop of San Salvador, spoke out against social injustice and poverty and was assassinated while saying Mass in 1980. Pelton said Romero’s legacy continues to unite people in El Salvador and has a particularly strong influence on younger generations.

“There’s been, in a certain sense, a rediscovery of Romero among younger people in El Salvador,” he said. “We had other people who were really remarkable and extraordinary coming together.”

After Pelton explained Romero’s cultural significance and influence, the featured contributors spoke about their pieces in the book. Kelly spoke first and said Romero may not have been the same iconic martyr if not for his friend Rutilio Grande, a Jesuit priest and friend who was assassinated in 1977.

“What I found was that Rutilio was very influential on Romero,” Kelly said. “Anytime you measure the influence of one person on another, it is an imprecise art. While one can see connections and explain convergences and postulate references, in the end it may be only possible to demonstrate that there was an influence.”

Connors then talked about his piece, which he said was inspired by Pfeil’s work on how Romero approached preaching.

“I took my initial cues from Margaret Pfeil’s excellent contribution on transfiguration," Connors said. "Margaret understood very well that preaching was central to Romero’s self-understanding. Maybe not at first, but certainly as he grew in the church and in his role. And she knew that self-understanding brought no false dichotomy between speaking on God’s behalf and speaking on behalf of the oppressed.”

Because of the character of Romero's assassination, Gutiérrez said Romero represents a new kind of martyr.

“He was very conscious to be ready to give his life for the Gospel, but also for the people, the people of El Salvador,” he said.

The book comprises the collected papers from Notre Dame’s most recent conference to honor the memory of the witness of Romero, who was beatified earlier this year.