Parishioners protest firing of pistol packing priest
MEXICO CITY, Mexico (Reuters) -- Angry parishioners chained shut a church in central Mexico on Friday in protest at the sacking of their priest, whose habit of tucking a gun under his robes has earned him fame and the nickname "Padre Pistolas."
Hundreds of people from the town of Chucandiro demonstrated outside the cathedral in the city of Morelia after Catholic church leaders there defrocked their gunslinging priest, Alfredo Gallegos, local media reported.
"We have closed the church with chains and that's how it will stay until Father Alfredo comes back," protester Gilberto Moron was quoting as saying, adding that locals would accept no other priest.
Gallegos is wildly popular with parishioners but has angered his Catholic superiors with his habit of wearing a shiny pistol beneath his robes, despite strict laws in Mexico banning private citizens from carrying guns.
Also known for his love of cowboy boots and country music, Gallegos says he only carries a gun for protection, noting several of his friends have been killed over the years.
Locals say he has brought them huge social benefits, helping the marginalized and raising money for roads and hospital projects. "He has united us as a people," said Moron.
Church leaders gave no reason for sacking the priest.
Copyright 2004 Reuters.