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Republished with permission from borderlandbeat.com. Click here for a story about the murder of priests south of the border.

Alfredo Gallegos Lara (61) is a catholic priest on the small town of Chucándiro, in Michoacán state. He’s famed for his social work: he gathers funds to build roads, restores churches in disrepair and pressures politicians to bring healthcare services and educational facilities to his parishes. When he pulls off his religious vestments behind the altar of the Catholic church in this town in central Mexico, he reveals his jeans, a fancy western style shirt, crocodile boots, and a shiny black pistol . . .

He also sings country music, and he never leaves home without his trusty Colt M1911. He is widely known by the nickname Padre Pistolas, or ‘Father Guns.’ No ordinary gunslinger, he may be Mexico’s most unusual parish priest.

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Mr. Gallegos is loved by his parish goers, who consider him a straight-shooting tough guy with a good heart. They love to see him packing heat, they love to see him sing his music.

Padre Pistolas was relocated by the church to Michoacán in 2004. When he arrived in Michoacán, the first thing he did was pressure local politicians into establishing a secondary school in the village. He then set his mind to building healthcare facilities in town, and currently tries to gather money to restore an old 450-year old church.

‘We love him, because he speaks the truth and cares about us’, local churchgoer Carlos Vargas says, ‘He’s a good priest.’

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“Four of my friends have been killed, and three of my trucks have been stolen,” he said, explaining that his ministry to drug addicts and the sick takes him through the back roads of central Mexico, where it is wise, he said, to be armed. The youngest of 10 children in a wealthy family with a long history of military service and fine marksmanship, Gallegos boasts ‘I can shoot five Pepsi cans from a wall in a few seconds, from 25 meters. I can’t do it anymore, though. The bishop says it’s bad for the image of the church. But what am I supposed to do? I can’t help it people come to look me up, in stead of the bishop…’

Ever since he entered the seminary at age 14, his handling of guns has been drawing popular attention as well as criticism from his church superiors.

“I have been fighting with the bishop. He is so angry with me. He doesn’t like my gun,” Gallegos said.

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He said Archbishop Alberto Suarez Inda is also uncomfortable with his high-profile fund-raising and construction projects. Gallegos has built 40 miles of roads, as well as basketball courts, schools, churches, and bridges in and around Jaral del Refugio in the neighboring state of Guanajuato, where he was the parish priest for 24 years. He said he raised millions of dollars for the projects. He makes frequent fund-raising trips to Illinois, North Carolina, and California, and migrants there have encouraged him to create a Padre Pistolas website, key chains, compact discs, and posters.

He doesn’t shy away from severely criticizing the catholic church in Mexico, politicians in general and those Michoacán in particular. ‘Mexican bishops are mediocre, all of them. The church has forgotten what it’s there for: to care for the weak.

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Padre Pistolas was relocated by the church to Michoacán in 2004. When he arrived in Michoacán, the first thing he did was pressure local politicians into establishing a secondary school in the village. He then set his mind to building healthcare facilities in town, and currently tries to gather money to restore an old 450-year old church.

‘Mexican politics make me sick. It’s all corrupt. Politicians are the problem in this country. They asked me a few times to run for mayor. Of course I didn’t do it, I’m an honest man!’

Gallegos’s guns and his super-sized persona have gotten him into hot water with the local bishop, who wants him to leave building roads and hospitals to the government and televised musical performances to entertainers. “He wants me to stick to baptizing children and saying Mass,” Gallegos said.

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Gallegos said he loves the Church but its leaders need to worry less about his guns and more about the church’s bigger problems, such as pedophilia scandals in the United States.

Suarez, the bishop, declined to be interviewed. “Oh, God,” moaned the person answering the phone in his office in Morelia, when asked for a comment about Padre Pistolas. “Don’t pay too much attention to him.”

‘I don’t give a damn what people say about me, I’m not afraid of anyone.’

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26 Responses to Mexico’s Pistol-Packing Priest

  1. Sounds like an interesting fellow. Quirky (not kinky!) clergy I have found to be some of the most effective and he seems to be effective at meeting his goals.

    Does anyone recognize his two rifles? Is the one on the right a 10/22?

  2. Wow. Sounds like quite a remarkable man. Good for him, and good for him for telling his Church superiors where to shove their “discomfort”.

  3. Send him to Chicago. You can give him Michael “Snuffy” Pfleger’s parish.
    Pfleger you can ship to Mexico for re-education.

        • Armaments, chapter two, verses nine through twenty-one.

          And Saint Attila raised the hand grenade up on high, saying, “O Lord, bless this thy hand grenade, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy.” And the Lord did grin.

  4. He gives a new meaning to the Church Militant. Kind of like the archbishop in the Song of Roland who dismounted in full armour before battle gives absolution and proceeded to cleve a moor in twain.

  5. You’ve made a good confession, son. For your penance, 3 Our Fathers, 3 Hail Marys, and a .45 slug! Give St Peter my regards.

    • Nice! Though a Catholic priest would invariably say “my son” during absolution, and probably also while advising on caliber.

  6. God bless this man, who understands that Christians are supposed to care about people’s physical, as well as spiritual welfare.
    He also understands what Jesus meant in telling His disciples, “Be innocent as doves, but wise as serpents.” Matt. 10:16

  7. “I have been fighting with the bishop.”

    Five will get you ten that Fr. Gallegos is beating the bishop. So to speak.

  8. as a practicing catholic , I would point to Luke 22:36 – jesus words.
    “Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.”

    Which is his instructions to disciples they should oppose unnecessary violence, but they must live in the world as it is and take care of themselves.

  9. I’m reminded of a Western I once saw, where a preacher is approached by a man who slams him on the cheek hard enough to knock him down. The man asks, “What does the Good Book say about that, preacher?” SO the preacher gets up and turns his other cheek toward the man, who slams him down again, laughing and looking proud of himself. Then the preacher gets up and says, “But after that, it says nothing” — and decks the guy, laying him out cold.

  10. Considering his apparent effectiveness, his Bishop and Archbishop need to either shut up, or complain to the current Pope. Who, judging by his modesty, might just tell them to pound sand and get out on the road with this “troublesome priest”.

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