Santa Muerte and “Bishop” David Romo Guillén

The faithful followers of Santa Muerte, the Death Saint, are unhappy that the government destroyed the shrines they had built on public land (see blog below).

One bishop, according to the Washington Post, agreed with them

But the destruction enraged Death Saint church leaders, including archbishop David Romo who in a homily Sunday called on followers across Mexico to hold demonstrations against the demolitions.

“It was both an open act of religious intolerance and an act of arrogance,” Romo said. “We are entering a stage of religious and governmental terrorism.”

He called on followers to stage protest marches during Easter week, including a potentially provocative Easter Sunday march to the Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the country’s widely-revered Roman Catholic patroness.

A previous report indicated that he said

“We are being persecuted,” said Catholic Bishop David Romo, who has become the black sheep of Mexico’s Catholic church for leading services to the bejeweled, scythe-wielding Santa Muerte, or Saint Death, in the rough Mexico City neighborhood of Tepito.

However Romo, despite inaccurate news reports, is not a Catholic, but rather a self-styled bishop of a traditionalist church, whose traditionalism seems to include pagan worship (Spero):

Cult spokesman David Romo Guillén, who styles himself as a bishop,[of] “The Mexico-US Tridentine Catholic Church” or “The Traditional Catholic Mex-USA Church.”

Mexico has native religious beliefs that pre-date the 1521 Spanish conquest and the arrival of the Catholic faith. Aztec and Mayan art and imagery are replete with images of death in the form of skull-adorned temples and deathly idols. Human sacrifice was offered by Mexicans’ ancestors to placate pagan gods and ensure the fertility of the earth. Before the Conquest, as many as 60,000 human lives were offered to the Aztec deities in as little as four days. That cult of death was sometimes personified by “Mictlantecuhtli” – a god who is represented as a skeleton or flayed man. Mass baptisms of Native Americans and catechisms in native languages offered by the first Spanish missionaries in the 1500s were not enough to wipe away generations of non-Christian, non-Western beliefs.


The real Catholic archdiocese has a different take:

Hugo Valdemar Romero, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Mexico, said the Roman Catholic Church was in no way involved in the demolitions. But he added that “it is no secret that this (Saint Death) religious organization is associated with drug traffickers and organized crime … it is not only superstitious, but diabolical.”

Romero has previously admitted the Catholic Church was in part at fault:

Lamenting the failure the Catholic Church has had in adequately addressing the needs of his flock, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Mexico City said last month that “Catholics are easy prey for the snares of imposters because of the deficient evangelization and religious formation we (the hierarchy) have provided to the faithful.”

Elementary Christian doctrine is a protection against superstition, whether in Mexico, Africa, or the United States (although our superstitions, e. g. Reiki, are not as colorful).

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