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Romero Days conference honors legacy of Blessed Archbishop Oscar Romero

| Friday, March 23, 2018

This weekend marks the annual Romero Days conference at Notre Dame, honoring the legacy of the Blessed Archbishop Oscar Romero. On March 7, Pope Francis formally authorized the beginning of the canonization process for Romero, as well as Pope Paul VI.

The Romero Days conference was started by Fr. Robert R. Pelton of the Kellogg Institute for International Studies after his time living in Chile during years of crisis and seeing the inappropriate governmental role the U.S. played in Latin American countries like Romero’s home country of El Salvador, he said.

This led to Pelton’s preparation of a documentary of Romero’s life and assassination, that he said has been shown all around the world.

“I think that has been a fairly effective form of communication of the reality of Romero’s assassination,” Pelton said. “I hope that it did contribute to a greater awareness across at least this country of the extraordinary role that Romero played in the midst of circumstances that would really overcome most of us.”

In addition to honoring Romero and the work he did helping the poor and El Salvadorian victims of violence, the conference also features several seminars on other topics such as “The Roots of Pope Francis’ Social and Political Thought” and “Torture and Eucharist: Thoughts Then and Now.”

This year, however, is special because of Pope Francis’s recognition of the miracle allowing Romero to be canonized as a saint, associate professor of theology Peter Casarella said.

“It’s Blessed Oscar Romero and soon-to-be saint, and that’s very exciting,” Casarella said. “We can now continue what we have been doing for the last 31 years, but knowing that the Church has caught up with the people of God.”

Carlos Colorado, who runs an Oscar Romero canonization blog, is visiting Notre Dame for the conference. Colorado said honoring Romero’s martyrdom is significant because it reminds people what it means to be a saint.

“Often times we have a notion that sainthood is kind of like a cap that closes a deal on a person — now they’re a statue on the wall and they’re gone,” Colorado said. “That’s the wrong idea. A saint is supposed to help you understand and react to realities, and in that sense Romero continues to be extremely important.”

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