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“Holey” over-kill

1 August 2008

The (Mexico City) News reports today that

A man believed to be the leader of a Santa Muerte cult was executed in his SUV early Thursday morning in Ecatepec, a sprawling suburb to the north of Mexico City.

Public security officials in the State of Mexico identified the victim as Padrino Endoque, or Father Endoque, who was reportedly the leader of Santa Muerte Internacional in the municipality of Tultitlán, State of Mexico.

No motive was given for the murder, but investigators said that his Cadillac Escalade was shot at more than 130 times.

That’s a bit excessive, but then the late “Padrino Endoque” ( better be translated “Godfather” … as in Don Corelone type god-father… than as “Father Endoque”) went in for excess.   “Santa Muerte International” in Tultitlan, Estado de Mexico (Endoque’s group) made the news back in January, when they installed a 22 meter high statue of Santa Muerte in the center of town, and opened a church — without bothering with the things of this world like building permits.  Endoque, aka Comandante Pantera, a radio psychic, was feuding not just with his neighbors and city hall, and the Roman Catholic Church (which called his organziation a satanic cult), but with the better known Santa Muerte organization headed by Archbishop David Ro­mo Gui­llén, of the “Igle­sia Ca­tó­li­ca, Apos­tó­li­ca, Tra­di­cio­nal Méx-USA”.

Being Mexico, things have to get weirder.  For historical reasons, the constitution recognizes the right to relgious belief, but restricts the rights of organized bodies of belief.  One thing that may confuse “News” readers is that “cult” in English is a value-laden word, but is the proper word in Mexico for any religious denomination.  However, not all denominations are created equally.

Churches have to register with the Secretaria de Gobernacion as Asociaciones Religiosa (A.R.) which can only hold the property and assets needed to perform their spiritual functions.  Other activities — schools and charities — are normally set up as outside not-for-profit agencies.   Because of changes in the Roman Catholic Church, and the long history of folk-religion in Mexico which mixes pre-Colombian and Catholic beliefs, there are a number of “Catholic” church organizations not associated with Rome.  Some, like the “Traditional Catholic Church of Mexico” exist to keep folk beliefs alive, especially where the Roman Catholic Church rejects the traditional practices that grew up over the centuries, or like the “Fidenciesta” church in Northern Mexico, where a local figure is venerated as a saint.  Confusing things, most followers of these smaller churches consider themselves “Catholics.” “Iglesia Ca­tó­li­ca, etc.” was, supposedly, a throw-back to the beliefs of the Catholic Church before 1870.

Santa Muerte, according to scholars, was a survival of Aztec devotions to Mictlantecuhtli and Mictecacihuatl — the Lord and Lady of Mictlan (the Aztec after-world — which the early Catholic missionaries interpeted as the Christian Hell).  Although there were regular devotions to “Santa Muerte” by the mid 19th century, after about the 1940s, the Tepito-based sect was seen by the  urban under-class — street and market vendors, day laborers, taxi drivers… but also prostitutes, thieves, gang-bangers, drug dealers, convicts, and — in the usual contradictions of Mexican life — police officers as meeting their own spirtual and psychological needs.   And Santa Muerte’s popularity was growing.

I’m not sure how David Roma became a priest in the “Iglesia Ca­tó­li­ca, etc.” or how exactly the Santa Muerte churches came to be associated with this sect, but they did.  Or, rather, they took over the sect.  Whatever their exact theology was originally, the Santa Muerte group supports “the morning after pill”, has no problem with sexual diversity (it particularly is known for welcoming transvestites into the congregation) and does not see abortion as a sin.  From what little I understand of their theology, Santa Muerte teachings on life and death promote sexual espression as a virtue, not a vice.  In other words, an annoyance to the Roman Catholic Church.  Having begun to attract well-to-do devotees, and taking on a quasi-political dimension, as a organized under-class group, it also annoyed the government.

Using the argument that the original registration for the church was as a “Tridentine Catholic” church (one rejecting post 1870s reforms), the Catholic hierarchy was able to convince the Fox Administration to decertify the Tepito group.  Despite this, it continues to function — and grow — under Roma’s adminstration.  In some ways, it made the Tepito group stronger.  It’s not subject to the restrictins that would be placed on it as a A.R.

It’s sometimes startling to realize the political implications of it, but given PAN’s pro-Catholic bias, small outsider church members tend to be in the opposition.  Although it’s widely seen as “satanic” (charges the Santa Muertes deny) it cooperates with other “opposition” religious groups.  You’ll sometimes see semi-political gatherings in the paper, featuring Salvation Army Generals, Greek Orthodox, Mormon, Anglican and Methodist Bishops, Baptist Pastors … and the Santa Muerte Archbishop pushing for religious freedom, or other issues.

The Tultitlán group claims the Tepito group is a front for narcotics dealers.  The Tepito group claims the same about the “heretical” “Santa Muerte Incorporated”.  But, having a church leader styled “the Godfather” and his “clerical garb” being draped in gold neck chains isn’t the way to counter the impression.  So who has rid us of the meddlesome Comandante Pantera?  Neighbors tired of his tacky cathederal?  The Catholics?  The Igle­sia Ca­tó­li­ca, Apos­tó­li­ca, Tra­di­cio­nal Méx-USA?  Narcos?  Or.. as El Universal (via Diario de Chihuahua) speculates, “Perhaps the ‘white girl’ (Santa Muerte) preferred to have him at her side.”

God knows!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Mr. Rushing permalink
    2 August 2008 12:37 pm

    “and the Roman Catholic Church (which called his organziation a satanic cult)”

    Ha ha ha ha… Stupid pedifile Catholics. It is impossible to worship Satan without a Judeo-Christian background. You really have to wonder why anyone would take the Catholic church seriously anymore. All religions are cults.

    The Catholic church has a lot of history of being wrong, they are wrong in this case to deny religious freedom to people who want to worship differently.

    Maybe if god was actually real and would obviously reveal himself, herself, or itself to everyone in the world in an undeniable way, maybe then we wouldn’t have any stupid religions.

  2. 17 December 2014 5:07 am

    very good

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