MEXICO CITY–Mexico’s government canceled the official recognition of a religious group devoted to the worship of the Santa Muerte, or “Saint Death” on Friday, arguing the group had violated its own statutes.
While the cancellation will not prevent the group from continuing its religious practices, it does affect the church’s right to raise money and own property.
The group, known officially as The Traditional Catholic Mex-USA Church, has no ties to the Roman Catholic church.
However, when the group registered with the Interior Department in 2003, it declared its purpose was to “conserve the Holy Tridentine Mass.”
A dissident priest from the group asked the government last year to investigate the church, arguing it had violated that precept.
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The group did not mention in its registry application that its main activity is to pray for the intercession of Saint Death, who devotees usually depict as a skeleton wearing women’s robes and who they view as the right-hand servant of God.
Those rites appear to have little to do with the Tridentine Mass, the standard Latin Mass codified by Pope Pius V at the request of the Council of Trent in 1570.
“The complaint was filed by one of their own ministers, who requested their registration be canceled because they had severely altered the aims” of the group, the Interior Department said in a press statement.
“For this reason, the group forfeits its legal standing, and with it such rights as owning property … and publicizing or transmitting its religious events in the mass media,” the statement continued.
David Romo Guillen, the self-styled Bishop of the church’s main shrine in a tough downtown Mexico City neighborhood, said the death-worshippers would not be deterred.
“We are going to carry on despite this,” Romo Guillen said. “We are going to hold various mobilizations to stop this injustice.”
In March, hundreds of death worshippers carrying statues of the grim reaper and white flowers marched through downtown Mexico City Friday to demand respect for their religion.
They complained that, because the group draws most of its followers from rough neighborhoods and prisons, society at large tends to brand them as criminals or drug addicts.
Many of the faithful recount miracles performed for them by Saint Death _ depicted as a smiling female skeleton known as our “Our Little White Girl.”
The Saint Death rites, which are performed in Spanish, use some phrases of Catholic liturgy, but mix them with other references not found in the official cannon.