Rev. Alfredo Gallegos, better known as Padre Pistolas to many in the Mexican state of Michoacan for his pro-self defense advocacy against cartel violence, has allegedly been suspended by the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico, and though officials have said nothing publicly about the reasons for the suspension, there’s really one one controversial position the pastor has taken; fight back against the drug cartels that are destroying the community.
Gallegos first issued his call to arms from the pulpit during a sermon in 2021, when he called out both cartel members for their wanton violence and community members for standing by and not putting up a fight.
“The cartel gunmen come, they take the livestock, they screw your wife and daughter, and you do nothing,” the Rev. Alfredo Gallegos said in a sermon. “Well, get yourself a gun, the government can go to hell.”
“We have to defend our lives,” Gallegos continued.
Mexican law forbids most civilians from owning almost all firearms, except for extremely low caliber hunting rifles or shotguns.
But Michoacan has a history of armed civilian “self defense” vigilante militia movements dating from 2013 and 2014. Back then vigilantes managed to chase the dominant Knights Templar cartel out, but rival cartels like the Viagras and the Jalisco cartel have moved in. Kidnappings, killings and shootings have prompted thousands to flee their homes.
At the time, Gallegos was backed by some fellow Roman Catholic clergy.
The Rev. Gregorio López, a priest known for once wearing a flak vest while celebrating Mass, has spent the last few years running shelters for people who have fled their homes due to violence. He has also tried to help get asylum or refugee status for Michoacan residents in the United States.
López called Gallegos’ sermon “the cry of the people.”
“He is trying to be the voice of the people, and that is the feeling of the community, that they should be armed,” said López, who served as a sort of spiritual adviser for some of the self-defense groups in 2014.
According to CBS News, Gallegos was suspended by the archdiocese of Morelia nearly a month ago, but the notice issued by church officials to other area priests did not disclose the reason for his suspension, only noting that he’d been “admonished on several occasions” previously.
Meanwhile, here in the United States a priest well known for advocating for more gun control has also apparently been suspended, though the Associated Press described it as the archdiocese of Chicago asking Father Michael Pfleger to “step away from his ministry” while allegations of sexual abuse of a child are being investigated.
In a letter sent Saturday, Cardinal Blase Cupich said Pfleger was asked to relinquish his duties at the church, Faith Community of Saint Sabina, after allegations were made that he sexually abused a minor decades ago.
Pfleger “has agreed to cooperate fully with this request,” Cupich said, adding that the archdiocese has notified the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and law enforcement officials as required by archdiocese policies.
The accuser is a man in his late 40s who said Pfleger on two occasions abused him in the late 1980s during choir rehearsals in the Saint Sabina rectory, according to a statement released by a spokesperson for the man’s attorney, Eugene Hollander. The attorney did not elaborate on the allegations.
Pfleger has denied any wrongdoing, saying in a statement that he is “completely innocent of this accusation” and declaring his confidence that the accusation would prove to be “unfounded.” Pfleger was also investigated by the Chicago archdiocese last year after similar allegations were reported, but was reinstated after the archdiocese determined that there was “insufficient reason to suspect” that the allegations were true.
I have a much easier time with Pfleger’s suspension, though I have no idea whether or not the allegations are true. They’re serious enough that a suspension is warranted, at least while the investigation takes place. Gallegos’s suspension, on the other hand, appears to be nothing more than the result of his desire to see his flock be able to protect themselves from the depredations of the cartels that have taken over their community. Note, by the way, that Gallegos isn’t demanding more gun control, of which Mexico already has plenty. No, he’s demanding the right of self-defense, which doesn’t seem to exist in practice for average, ordinary citizens even if it’s mentioned in Mexican law.