MANILA – While fans celebrate the latest victory of Filipino boxing icon Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, a Catholic priest said the boxer’s success has become a “major blow” to Filipino values.

Carmelite priest Marlon Lacal, co-executive secretary of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines, said the Filipinos’ “idolisation” of Pacquiao and boxing promoted violence and gambling.

Father Lacal said the dangerous sport has also lured Filipinos into high-stakes betting.

“Boxing is not just a sport. It is also gambling because millions [are] involved. The Church is against activities that promote violence and gambling,” Father Lacal told ucanews.com.

Nevertheless, Catholic bishops were among those who congratulated Pacquiao in his victory over Mexican-American boxer Antonio Margarito on Nov 14. Most of the bishops, however, now want Pacquiao to retire and focus on his job as a member of Congress.

“Congrats! Now that you won, it is time to retire and focus on your district,” said Antipolo Auxiliary Bishop Francis de Leon.

“Thank God, Pacquiao won. He should now choose his priority,” said Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez.

“My congratulations to Manny Pacquiao…. I hope we bring equal honour and pride to our country in more important issues and concerns as we go back to work this Monday,” said Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo.

“I admire him ... for two things: one, he has the love for creating a peaceful homeland in Mindanao, and two, he has the unending desire to serve the poor in many humanitarian ways… and he prays before and after a fight. He is of the rare kind,” said Father Teresito Soganub of Marawi City in the southern Philippines.

Butuan Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos lauded Pacquiao for being “simple, a brother and friend to everyone”.

- UCANews.COM

Above: Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines hits a double end bag during a workout in Los Angeles. CNS photo

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