When I was debating leaving seminary a good friend told me he had heard of some syncretic practices of Catholicism around the world, blending dark practices with Catholicism. I shrugged. “Even if that’s happening, it doesn’t mean the Catholic Church condones it. It’s not in the Catechism. This is, fundamentally, a teaching issue.”
Many evangelical missionaries have likely be rightly disturbed to see Catholics worshipping Santa Muerte in Mexico. But here’s the catch: the Catholic Church does not want Catholics worshipping the possibly demonic Santa Muerte! Just because some Catholics do something does not mean it’s what all Catholics should be doing. As a faithful Catholic, I do not worship the Saint of Death, and neither should you! What a slogan. Today, the Vatican got involved and made this abundantly clear:
The death saint, which dates back to colonial times, is gaining popularity in a country racked with drug violence, and now Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture has denounced Santa Muerte as blasphemous and a sign of religious deterioration. “Religion celebrates life,” the cardinal said, “but here you have death. It’s not religion just because it’s dressed up like religion.
As Catholics, we can and should comfortably speak against corruptions of the truth. But this is much different from trying to change the truth itself, which we believe was passed down from Jesus to the apostles and is preserved in our church today. The Eucharist? Yes. Santa Muerte? No.