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Devotees of bizarre ‘Saint of Death’ popular with drug traffickers call for jihad against Church in Mexico after military destroys several of their shrines

Mexico City, Mexico (CNA) -- Father Hugo Valdemar, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Mexico City, has issued a warning about the “terrorist” nature of the call for a “holy war” against the Catholic Church by the leader of followers of Santa Muerte -- “St. Death.”

[Image: SantaMuerte040909.jpg]David Romo Guillen, leader of the devotion to “St. Death,” especially popular among drug traffickers and criminals, called for a “holy war” against the Catholic Church after the Mexican Army destroyed several places of worship it suspected to be criminal hideouts, especially in the northern part of the country, including one shrine to Santa Muerte in Tijuana.

"Only terrorist or fundamentalist leaders call for holy wars, like Bin Laden or the Taliban,” said Fr. Valdemar. “It’s a shame that Mr. Romo makes himself equal to the Taliban or a terrorist by calling for a holy war.”

After the destruction of the suspected hideouts, Romo blamed the military’s actions on the Catholic Church, because several bishops had warned against the devotion and called it un-Christian.

On Monday, April 6, followers of St. Death, led by Romo, protested outside the Mexico City Cathedral, displaying pictures of the “White Child,” the name they have given to St. Death, represented by a skeleton dressed in a white tunic or sometimes in a wedding gown.

“Nobody has the right to call for a war, sedition, or a revolt,” said Fr. Valdemar. “As far as I know, that is a crime.”

The priest denied that the Catholic Church has launched a campaign against the practice. “David Romo is only looking for someone to get into the ring with him,” Fr. Valdemar stated.

The spokesman for the archdiocese stressed that the bishops have limited themselves to “clarifying for the people that this devotion is superstitious and can lead to demonic practices, and that they should be very careful because it is not something insignificant or inoffensive.”

Holy Week, he went on, “is the least appropriate time to carry on these kinds of protests for holy wars. It should be a time of respect and peace.”

“St. Death has no business being in front of the cathedral,” Fr. Valdemar added. The leader of the sect “should protest outside the Secretariat of the National Defense and the Attorney General because I understand it was soldiers from the military who destroyed the altars.”

Fr. Valdemar called on the Catholic faithful not to allow themselves to be provoked because “it is not legitimate to get involved in fights, and much less so in Holy Week.”

One Santa Muerte shrine was destroyed in Tijuana on March 21. The tiny chapel made of concrete blocks had stood for five years on an abandoned road between Tijuana and Tecate. Followers of La Santa Muerte revere a skull-faced statue holding a scythe in her right hand and an hourglass in her left. Worshippers leave cigars, cigarettes, matchboxes, and even cans of beer behind in the chapel as part of their rituals, which also involve candles, knives, dolls, and strings.

One of the cult’s biggest draws is that followers can ask La Santa Muerte to wreak vengeance on their enemies. A prayer (translated): “I want you to make it so that [insert the name] can't eat on a table, can't sit on a chair, nor have peacefulness. I wish that you force him to give himself up and humiliate him in front of me, come to my feet, and never ever leave me.”

Tijuana Archbishop Rafael Romo Muñoz expressed little sympathy for Santa Muerte followers over the shrine’s destruction, telling a Tijuana newspaper the cult was nothing but a business selling scary images of “the patron of narco-trafickers” and that its followers ask the grisly image to help them complete their “vengeance and killings.”

Wow. Frightening. It would seem they are reverting back to the Aztec culture of grisly violence and death that reigned in Mexico City before the Spaniards brought Catholicism.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!