Italian priest Father Agostino Acireale says he needs more than a prayer to protect him from criminals. He wants a gun.

Citing "security reasons," the pastor of the Church of St. Francis in Valguarnera, central Sicily, has applied for a gun permit, a provincial police official said.Newspaper reports said Acireale, 47, who runs a parish and a home for the elderly, applied for the permit because thieves had broken into his church several times.

But not everyone approved. His superior, the bishop of Enna, has received several anonymous letters of complaint.