Notre Dame News | November 6, 2019
Rev. Robert S. Pelton, C.S.C., faculty fellow in the University of Notre Dame’s Kellogg Institute for International Studies and founder and director emeritus of its Latin American/North American Church Concerns (LANACC), died Monday (Nov. 4). He was 98.
Father Pelton was an expert on liberation theology — in particular its roots and impact in Latin American countries — and he published extensively on the life and legacy of St. Óscar Romero, the storied archbishop of San Salvador who was assassinated in 1980. In October 2018, at age 97, Father Pelton traveled to Rome to attend Romero’s canonization ceremony in St. Peter’s Square, and his expertise on the new saint was featured in news coverage by Zenit, the New York Times and The Guardian, among others.
“Few people have served Notre Dame with the same dedication and energy as Father Bob. His record of service sheds a lot of light on the genesis of almost all the ecclesial institutes we have around us today,” said Peter Casarella, associate professor of theology at Notre Dame and former director of LANACC. “From its inception, Father Bob dedicated LANACC to ‘reverse mission.’ He believed that gringos such as himself had more to learn from Latin America than Latin Americans were going to learn from him.”
A native of Evanston, Illinois, and a 1945 graduate of Notre Dame, Father Pelton was ordained a Holy Cross priest in 1949 and received his licentiate and doctorate in sacred theology from St. Thomas University in Rome. In 2016, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Portland in recognition of his career as a filmmaker, scholar, author, theology professor and globetrotter, as well as his “lifelong commitment of service to Latin America and the Latin American Church.”
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