Last week, the Archdiocese of Morelia in the capital of the violence-plagued western state of Michoacan in Mexico suspended Father Alfredo Gallegos.

An order circulated throughout the Archdiocese instructed other priests to not allow Gallegos to celebrate Mass, saying he “had been admonished on several occasions” before.

Archbishop Carlos Merlos said in the order:

“For this reason I inform you of the above, since I have learned that he continues to perform the priestly ministry. With the understanding that, if he continues to exercise it, he will be entitled to the penalties established in Canon Law. If necessary, they must communicate it to the parish community so that they avoid making invitations to celebrate Mass or any sacrament.”

Better known as “Padre Pistolas,” in a 2021 sermon Gallegos advised his parishioners to carry firearms to fight off cartels. Although Mexican law generally forbids civilian firearm ownership, he always celebrates Mass armed.

“The cartel gunmen come, they take the livestock, they screw your wife and daughter, and you do nothing. Well, get yourself a gun, the government can go to hell. We have to defend our lives.”

Gallegos said it is the third time he has been suspended by the Archdiocese, and he has since asked for trial to defend himself.

His supporters say his sermon was “the cry of the people.”

Father Gregorio Lopez, who would often celebrate Mass wearing a bulletproof vest, said “he is trying to be the voice of the people, and that is the feeling of the community, that they should be armed.”

Mexico is notoriously dangerous for men of the cloth.

In a span of less than two weeks in 2018, three Mexican priests were murdered within their parishes in what was called a “Black April” for the Church.

According to the Catholic Multimedia Center, nearly three dozen priests have been killed in Mexico since December of 2012.

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