Mexico's Holy Death Sect Marks Anniversary

Latin American Herald Tribune/August 18, 2009

Mexico City - Shunned by the Vatican and the Mexican government, the Holy Death sect, which claims to have 5 million faithful in the world, celebrated its 7th anniversary with Masses, baptisms, confirmations, first communions and weddings.

Scores of believers gathered Sunday at the Mexico City mother church of this Christian sect that worships the "Santa Muerte," or Holy Death, represented by the figure of a woman with white skin, fine features and long hair.

Throughout the day, the self-proclaimed archbishop and primate of the Mexico-U.S. Traditional Catholic Church, David Romo, called on his followers to strenghten their faith against all the criticism.

"Sometimes they treat us well and sometimes they treat us badly, and most of the time it's badly," Romo said in his sermon.

Candles and apples, the faithful tattooed with images of Holy Death, floral offerings and mariachis singing "Las Mañanitas" (Dawnings), the song Mexicans typically sing on birthdays, enlivened the afternoon.

Romo said that there is "daily proof" of "so many favors, so many miracles and and so many good things that (Holy Death) brings into the lives of its followers.

For sale inside the church were candles with a special oil "to open the way" towards Holy Death, while sessions of spiritual purification were carried out to purge "the filth we have inside" with such typical foods as Lenten chiles and mole.

The religious leader used the Mass to criticize the nation's economic situation and the rising price of staples.

Denouncing politicians who "live like kings," Romo said: "it's time to tell them ‘Enough,' because we're poor, we know what it's like to be poor and to live from one day to the next." The Church of Holy Death is linked with criminals and drug traffickers.

The sect, a product of poor neighborhoods, is not approved of by the Vatican nor by the Mexican government, which cancelled its registration as a religious organization in 2005.

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