(This summary originally appeared in an alternate form on SkeletonSaint.com )
The battle between the Catholic orthodoxy and devotees of Santa Muerte has hit a high water mark with a visit to Mexico from the Vatican’s Cultural Minister, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi. Sarah C. Nelson, writing for Huffington Post UK, reports on the news that Ravasi has given a charge of blasphemy to Santa Muerte in a series of talks he presented where he compared the devotional tradition to those held by Cosa Nostra organized crime families in Italy:
“A Vatican spokesman has declared Mexico’s folk Death Saint (Santa Meurte) is “blasphemous” and should not be part of any religion.
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi said worship of the skeletal figure of a cloaked woman carrying a scythe was a degeneration of religion, the Associated Press reported.”
This is Ravasi’s third condemnation of the tradition in four days. Up to this point the Catholic Church’s standard response has, at times, favored the devotional fervor, and intent of Santa Muerte’s followers, while expressing concern over doctrinal issues. Quotes from a Spanish language AP report show that that the Cardinal has gone well past any tense acquiescence, and it seems likely that the Vatican is planning to highlight Santa Muerte as a negative foil during the development of upcoming cultural education initiatives:
“The mafia, drug trafficking, organized crime are not religious forms.