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Last Updated: Saturday, 6 November, 2004, 12:01 GMT
Mexicans back gun-toting priest
Mass in Mexico in 2002
About 90% of Mexicans are Catholic
Churchgoers in a central Mexican town have been enraged by the sacking of their Roman Catholic priest, known for tucking a shiny pistol under his robe.

They chained shut the Chucandiro church to demand the reinstatement of Father Alfredo Gallegos, who has earned the nickname "Padre Pistolas".

No reason has been given for sacking the priest, also noted for his love of cowboy boots and country music.

Mexico has strict laws banning private citizens from carrying guns.

Father Alfredo says he only carries a gun for protection - given that several of his friends have been killed over the years, Reuters news agency reports.

Hundreds of Chucandiro townspeople demonstrated outside the cathedral in the city of Morelia to demand his return.

"We have closed the church with chains and that's how it will stay until Father Alfredo comes back," a protester, Gilberto Moron was quoting as saying.

"He has united us as a people," said Mr Moron, adding locals would accept no other priest.

They say he has helped the marginalised and raised money for roads and hospital projects, Reuters said.

Saintly spell over Mexico
27 Jul 03 |  From Our Own Correspondent
Country profile: Mexico
26 Nov 03 |  Country profiles
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14 Jan 04 |  Country profiles


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