EL PASO, Texas - Bishop Mark Seitz, along with other bishops in the Southwest and in Mexico, are denouncing the skeleton folk saint known as 'La Santa Muerte' -- or 'Holy Death."
"It's really in a sense an anti-saint," Seitz said. "When we pray and ask for the intercession of saints, we're asking them to help us be all that God wants us to be. We're approaching them as the model for our Christian life."
Catholic leaders in Mexico routinely have attacked 'La Santa Muerte' for the deity's connection to violence and the illicit drug trade.
But, American bishops had rarey ever spoken out against the figure.
The denouncement comes after Ciudad Juarez Bishop Jose Guadalupe Torres Campos attacked La Santa Muerte, which means Holy Death, in a recent newspaper interview and urged parishioners not to join this
'La Santa Muerte' wears a nun's robe, and has a scythe in one hand. People pray to her when they are committing crimes, or seeking revenge.
"What people are using that image for -- many of them, I couldn't say all -- are using it to approve of their poor behavior," Seitz said. "To give them protection while they're doing evil, something we would never ask God to assist us with."
Seitz's goal is to educate those Catholics who do not see the problem with worshipping her.
"They're seeking the help of this saint of death to protect them, and perhaps assist them in doing evil," Seitz said. "We know that most people would not want to associate themselves with such an image."