What is the Catholic position on "Santa Muerta"?

What is the Catholic position on “Santa Muerta”?

Since so many Latin Americans are entering this country, could these people be influencing the Catholic Church to go in the wrong direction? What would Jesus do about this? Is the Catholic Church so worried about being “politically correct” that it is leading us all to satan?

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The Catholic Church has condemned devotion to “Santa” Muerta.

I’ve seen those “Holy Death” candles at certain convenience stores in my neighborhood, right next to the St. Jude and Our Lady of Guadalupe candles. (I live in a low-income, high crime neighborhood that is about 80% Mexican nationals who don’t speak English.) The candles are black and demonic-looking. I’m really unsettled by the whole thing, to be honest. It’s like a kind of voodoo mixed in with legitimate Catholicism.

Another thing I’ve noticed about this community is a highly superstitious veneration of Our Lady of Guadalupe…You may not see all the other trappings of Catholicism as much, like people filling up the churches and receiving the sacraments, but Our Lady’s image is literally everywhere…clothing, linenes, cars, sunglasses, cigarette lighters, etc.

The Church condemns occult practices and does not recognize any Santa Muerta.

The Church has condemned devotions to Santa Muerte many times; however, some people fail to heed its condemnation. It has been many in the Latin American community who practice Santeria and still think it is compatible with Catholicism, despite the fact that the Church condemns its practice as well. Sometimes what the church says and what people do are two completely different entities.

Devotion to ‘saint death’ is useless, says Mexican archbishop

Mexico City, Nov 28, 2008 / 02:47 pm (CNA).- Archbishop Jose Ulises Macias Salcedo of Hermosillo said this week the devotion to “Saint Death” does not protect those who “pray” to him from anything and that those who believe in it are “badly misguided.”

According to the newspaper El Imparcial, “these things begin to take hold in the heart and people begin to believe in them.” The devotion to this false saint gained strength in the recent past and “there are still some small chapels” dedicated to the practice along certain highways,” the archbishop explained.

“I think people are beginning to realize they were fooled and that there is a God. There is a saying that if you don’t know the true God, you’ll bow down before any old tree. So if there is a God, what else are we looking for?” he asked.

The devotion to “Saint Death” has been condemned by the Archdiocese of Mexico on several occasions, which has stressed that it is not compatible with the Catholic faith.

catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=14479

Pax tecum.

I ran across another story in the LA Times that I just couldn’t believe. The local church authorities in Mexico are “considering” excommunication for drug dealers.

“Considering?”

What in the world do they teach Catholics in Latin American countries? It’s OK to poison people with drugs. It’s OK to join gangs. It’s OK kill to get what you want. It’s OK to steal from your neighbor. (The United States)

Is it even the Catholic Church down there? What have we been contributing to?

[FONT=Times New Roman]MEXICO UNDER SIEGE[/FONT]
Vatican suggests excommunicating Mexican drug traffickers
The Vatican’s No. 2 official, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, calls for a ‘harsh deterrent’ to the drug violence that left more than 5,000 dead last year.
[FONT=Times New Roman]By Tracy Wilkinson[/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman]January 13, 2009

Reporting from Mexico City — Decrying the violence that Mexicans are enduring, the Vatican has suggested excommunication as a possible punishment for drug traffickers whose war with the government has led to the deaths of thousands of people in the last year.

But the Roman Catholic Church’s severest form of rebuke would probably have little effect on traffickers and killers who lack a religious conscience, the Vatican’s No. 2 official, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, acknowledged.

Speaking to Latin American journalists at the Vatican before traveling to Mexico on Monday, Bertone said it was a “duty” to fight drug gangs because their actions represent “the most hypocritical and terrible way of murdering the dignity and personality of today’s youth.”

“Certainly, excommunication is a very harsh deterrent that the church has used to deal with the most serious crimes in its history, from the very first centuries,” Bertone said when asked if the censure would be appropriate. Excommunication bars a Catholic from receiving sacraments and participating in public worship.

“But I should observe that excommunication is a punishment that touches only those who have some form of ecclesiastical conscience, an ecclesiastical education,” he added.

The Vatican, Bertone said, is alarmed at the “disasters” of drug-fueled violence, kidnappings and generalized insecurity in Mexico and, increasingly, in some of its Central American neighbors. He called on Catholics to pray for traffickers to have a change of heart.

Bertone – whose official title is Vatican secretary of state, making him a kind of prime minister to Pope Benedict XVI – will be in Mexico for the sixth World Meeting of Families, a church conference that starts this week. His comments were published in Mexican newspapers Monday.

Within the “narco-culture” that surrounds the drug trade here, gangsters make use of a blend of Catholic observance mixed with superstition and their own iconography. For example, many revere the so-called saint of the narco- traffickers, a Robin Hood-type character named Jesus Malverde.

President Felipe Calderon launched the Mexican army a little over two years ago in a nationwide offensive against powerful and well-armed drug gangs. Rather than pacify the country, the conflict has only increased the bloodshed. More than 5,000 people were killed last year alone.

Officially, the church hierarchy in Mexico has been supportive of the government campaign while also urging dialogue and an end to violence. In some parts of the country, however, priests have been willing to accept money from local drug lords to pay for church repairs or other community projects.

“They are very generous with the societies of their towns,” Bishop Carlos Aguiar Retes, president of the Mexican Bishops Conference, said in April, according to the newspaper Reforma. In some remote towns, he said, “they put up lights, communications, roads, at their own expense. . . . Often they also build a church or a chapel.”

The remarks outraged many Mexicans, and church officials later said the bishop was taken out of context. But human rights activists have long complained of complacency by many priests.

“There are seminaries, churches, who accept money not knowing where it came from,” Mercedes Murillo, president of the Sinaloan Civic Front in the city of Culiacan, a major drug-trafficking center, said in a recent interview. “They wash their hands like Pontius Pilate.”

wilkinson@latimes.com

Times staff writer Maria De Cristofaro in Rome contributed to this report. [/FONT]

Wait one second. You shouldn’t generalize the Catholic Church in Latin America because they can do the same with those in America. You have to look at it in a social context and to find the problem at hand. Further, the problems that you mention are problems that exist in the United States to one degree or another.

The Catholic Church in Latin America has a difficult time competing with a post colonial environment that was strongly influenced by communisim / marxist mentalities. You have an environment where socially an identity is sought and one is competing with varying influences. Saying that, you can talk about drug cartels and drug problems, but the largest buyer of said products are those residing in the United States.

Further, it was not the local authorities considering excommunication of drug dealers, but it was the suggestion of the Vatican because of the seriousness of the problem. However, you must realize that the problem in Latin America is so serious that priests have lost their lives fighting against the narco culture. They must tread carefully as must their flock, so before you rag on the Church there ponder that.

I’ll tell you what, if you want to help stop the drug culture in Latin America, help stop drug buying in the United States and the market will dry up quite a bit.

Pax.

Which came first? The drug or the addict?

“Stop taking the drugs” is the Mexican answer which is really pathetic when you consider that a little over 10 years ago, Mexican banks and bankers were caught helping lauder money into the US. It was a US undercover sting operation to see how far the Mexicans have penetrated our financial system.

Once caught, the Mexicans were outraged that the US conducted this undercover operation on their sacred soil. The hypocrisy of the Mexican government is unbelievable. They wanted to procecute the US agents as criminals but the US said absolutely NO! However the US did agree never to conduct undercover operations again in that country without first getting their approval. Since most Mexican reporters have admitted that Former Mexican President Vincente Fox was cooperating with the drug cartels, you can see that the US received very little help from Mexico.

But your statment making the Catholic Church powerless in Mexico is not true and to say that the Church or its priest must tread carefully is what sainthood is all about. Isn’t that the core of the Church, taking risks under extremely dangerous circumstances. The resistance movements of WW2 took the same risks.

How can you expect your flock to carry their crosses if you, as a priest, do not lead by example. How do you train your flock to resist evil if you aren’t willing to do the same.

The drug trade started small but grew because people refused to take responsibility for stopping it. Like Nazi Germany, it could have been stopped if enough people said, “NO!”.

You are truly comparing apples and oranges here. You have failed to realize the complacency of the US govenment in matters, and the insititution of the Nazi regime and its policies encounterd a completely different reaction than that of the drug trade and those that profit from it.

Now saying that, the main contention of my previous posting was that you must realize the position the environment which some priest are working in. Yes, there have been some who have been complacent but to generalize all is an incorrect notion. Further, the Mexican government is not the Catholic Church in Mexico, and the complacency of the Mexican government still does not eliminate the fact that the biggest purchaser of those drugs is the United States.

You have failed to realize what I had written before about competing mentalities and what the church has had to struggle against. They are in a atmosphere where they are still facing marxist/communist mentalities and the strength they once had has diminished. Much like in the United States, the Church states things, but people do not always listen. We could argue this and I could say that this was once a problem in the United States and the Church allowed funerals of mafia members and accepted money as donations from mafia members, but that is not object of this thread. The object of this thread, started by you, was about Santa Muerte. However, I have noticed from reading your other posts that you seem to be quite preoccupied with Latin Americans/Mexican/Minorities.

Honestly if you want to discuss the complacency of the the Roman Catholic Church in the Latin American or Mexican Drug trade, take the your article and post it in the News Forum. You have deviated from the posted thread.

Pax tecum.

But is Santa Muerta a corruption of the Catholic Church’s teachings or a entirelly different religion or maybe the word “cult” would be more appropriate.

When shown “worshipping” the “death” statue, people are seen making the sign of the cross. Are the worshippers trying to connect these two beliefs?

By the way, when encountering a lung cancer patient who smoked for 35 years, do you blame the smoker or the tobacco company. Now remember, no one forced the smoker to smoke.

The Nazis and the drug cartels are not that disimilar. The members of both were often drunk with power.

  1. The reaction to Drug Cartels and the Nazi Regime have been totally different. As far as the comment “drunk with power”, many governments and criminals are drunk with power. Nevertheless, I was comparing the response of the international community.

2.You can blame the tobacco company, and recent court cases have proved that, as tobacco companies have begun to settle out of court on certain issues that shows liability; further, they were forced to pay amounts for treatment purposes in the past by the US Government that is why cigarettes taxes/prices have increased. So you can blame the tobacco company as much as the smoker.

  1. If you want to understand Santa Muerte, you have to understand the number of people who don’t believe in God, as was quoted in the article I cited in my earlier posting. You also have to look at religions that predate Christianity and their influence amongst the people. Santa Muerte is a belief that is occult and not condoned by the Church. However, there are always those in the community who are superstitious, as in any culture. They flock to cult like things like Santa Muerte out of greed, desires, or just be misguided souls, but not all drug dealers practice devotion to Santa Muerte and the culture of death you speak of manifests in different ways in every culture. As far as people blessing themselves with the sign of the cross, that is a carry over from Catholicism and you will find that in many Latin American Cult religions. It is a reflection of Catholicism influence on the old religions from their colonization. It is not proper, but that is why. It is essentially paganistic, but you will see remnants of paganistic traditions in Europe. It still happens. Like I mentioned before, what the Church says and what people do are sometimes two different things. It is the free will of man that enters the equation. It doesn’t make me happy that such things taint the sanctity of Catholicism, but it is difficult to route out. It is only with proper education (Catechesis), which has declined much by the admission of many priests, prayer and fasting that this blight will be able to be removed. The blight being the culture of death in its many forms, relativism, communism, nihilism, etc. When this is done, then many of the problems we see manifesting in society will disappear.

Pax Christi.

  1. If you want to understand Santa Muerte, you have to understand the number of people who don’t believe in God, as was quoted in the article I cited in my earlier posting. You also have to look at religions that predate Christianity and their influence amongst the people. Santa Muerte is a belief that is occult and not condoned by the Church. However, there are always those in the community who are superstitious, as in any culture. They flock to cult like things like Santa Muerte out of greed, desires, or just be misguided souls, but not all drug dealers practice devotion to Santa Muerte and the culture of death you speak of manifests in different ways in every culture. As far as people blessing themselves with the sign of the cross, that is a carry over from Catholicism and you will find that in many Latin American Cult religions. It is a reflection of Catholicism influence on the old religions from their colonization. It is not proper, but that is why. It is essentially paganistic, but you will see remnants of paganistic traditions in Europe. It still happens. Like I mentioned before, what the Church says and what people do are sometimes two different things. It is the free will of man that enters the equation. It doesn’t make me happy that such things taint the sanctity of Catholicism, but it is difficult to route out. It is only with proper education (Catechesis), which has declined much by the admission of many priests, prayer and fasting that this blight will be able to be removed. The blight being the culture of death in its many forms, relativism, communism, nihilism, etc. When this is done, then many of the problems we see manifesting in society will disappear.

Pax Christi.

Do you see a connection between “Santa Muerta” and “Jesus Malverde”?

The only connection I see is that both are not to be revered and are condemned by the Catholic Church. Santa Muerte is believed to be rooted in Aztec beliefs, where as Jesus Malverde is a modern invention. The are, from what I see and have read, different entities. Nevertheless, they are both pagan and both to be denied by Catholics. However, both are typified by devotion by criminals, but it is not to say that only criminal worship them:mad: . It is an abhorrence, which is why it is so important for us to pray for our brothers and sisters who stray off the path.

Pax tecum.

Many American Catholics have watched what Latin Americans have brought into their Churches with “uneasiness” though a large number look at it with disgust, even the American clergy. I 've talked to one nun who was almost in tears when she talks about “the changes that we are forced to submit to.” Using the altar as a stage for Aztec worship which is clearly against what all American Catholics believe. Dressing up as Aztecs and running around the church. What does that have to do with Jesus?

It’s not that the Latin Americans believe in this form of worship, but why does the Catholic Church allow this display inside American Churches. Why doesn’t the American Catholic Church stand up and show them that this is wrong? Saying its part of a culture does nothing to correct the error. Permitting it to continue encourages it.

I have never seen this. If you have witnessed this abuse contact your local ordinary.

Here’s a photo. I think it says it all:

stmaryofczestochowa.org/photo/2008/081204NovenaalaVirgendeGuadalupe/novenaalavirgendegudalupe007.html

Actually it doesn’t. There is the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico and there are off shoots which do not belong to Rome that practice devotions to Saint Death. They are substantially different. Which type is this church?

It’s a Roman Catholic Church that was built by the Polish around 1920 I think. It has 3 different Masses on Sundays. English, Polish, and Spanish language. I’ve been to a few triligual Mass but the Spanish dominate it with mariachi music and sometimes diplays like in the photos.

It is obviously a celebration and cultural expressions are allowed within reason. I don’t know what the priest’s intentions were. You would have to direct it at the priest.

But honestly, you have to stop being so bitter about it. I don’t prefer Mass in modern vernacular. I prefer Latin. However, Vatican II has allowed for certain changes. You also have to keep in mind that you community has changed demographically. Catholicism is universal. If something is truly upsetting you, address your priest. If you don’t get the response you like, then go to your local ordinary.

It is understandable that change is hard. We all don’t like it, but such are things now. Is there a Tridentine Mass in your area? Maybe you would find comfort in that.

But since this is America, you would expect anyone coming here to adopt American ways. You would expect the American Catholic Church to be more loyal to the people who built that Church than to people who are just the latest arrivals. If the Catholic Church and all it stands for can be swayed to follow the customs of the lastest arrivals and ignore the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church, it stands for nothing.

Wouldn’t you agree?

Actually, the Spaniards were the first to bring Catholicism to the Americas.

Your argument sounds very nativist. I will end our conversation here. Just remember. Catholic comes from the Greek word katholikos which means universal. Further, Latin Rite Catholicism is just but one part of the Catholic Church and each Rite may use different language. Just keep that in mind.

Vale.

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