Vatican: Mexico's folk Death Saint is blasphemous

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Photo -   FILE - In this Feb. 13, 2013 file photo, statues of La Santa Muerte are shown at the Masks y Mas art store in Albuquerque, N.M. The Vatican's culture minister said in Mexico City on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 that Mexico's folk Death Saint is a blasphemous symbol that shouldn't be part of any religion. La Santa Muerte is worshipped both by drug dealers in Mexico and by the terrified people who live in drug-torn neighborhoods. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras, File)
FILE - In this Feb. 13, 2013 file photo, statues of La Santa Muerte are shown at the Masks y Mas art store in Albuquerque, N.M. The Vatican's culture minister said in Mexico City on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 that Mexico's folk Death Saint is a blasphemous symbol that shouldn't be part of any religion. La Santa Muerte is worshipped both by drug dealers in Mexico and by the terrified people who live in drug-torn neighborhoods. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras, File)
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MEXICO CITY (AP) — The Vatican's culture minister says Mexico's folk Death Saint is a blasphemous symbol that shouldn't be part of any religion.

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi says worshipping such an icon is a degeneration of religion.

The Santa Muerte is a skeletal figure of a cloaked woman with a scythe in her bony hand. It is worshipped both by drug dealers in Mexico and by the terrified people who live in drug-torn neighborhoods.

Ravasi spoke Wednesday at a dialogue among believers and nonbelievers in Mexico City as part of the Vatican's "Courtyard of the Gentiles." The program was started in 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI, who said the Roman Catholic Church should hold such meetings so nonbelievers could get to know God.

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