CBCP exec defends Pacquiao on gay stance
(The Philippine Star) - February 21, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The Catholic church yesterday defended boxing icon and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao for his opposition to gay marriage, saying he was only quoting the Bible.

But Father Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the public affairs office of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said Pacquiao should also respect homosexuals and not judge and condemn them.

Pacquiao, who converted from Catholicism to an evangelical Protestant faith late in his boxing career, was pilloried by local gay rights groups and celebrities after he described homosexuals as “worse than animals.”

Nike, Pacquiao’s major global sponsor, cancelled its endorsement deal with him in the past week, describing his comments as “abhorrent.”

“But this is really in the Bible. There is this quote he uses from the Bible and we cannot change that,” Secillano said over radio station dzMM.

The CBCP official said it was “unfair” to condemn Pacquiao for echoing what he reads in the Bible when he was asked about same-sex marriage.

But Secillano also said the boxing hero should not have used offensive language.

“The church says that if this is your lifestyle, if this is your orientation, then we respect that. We cannot condemn them,” the priest explained.

Secillano reiterated that the Catholic church still opposed the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Church influence has also kept divorce and abortion from being legalized in the Philippines. Homosexuality is not criminalized and several LGBT figures have become celebrities.

Pacquiao, who intends to retire after his April fight against American Timothy Bradley to pursue a career in politics, issued an apology on social media on Tuesday but later said his apology was qualified.

Batista: Pacquiao is an ‘idiot’

Hollywood actor and former wrestler Batista also lambasted Pacquiao for discriminating homosexuals.

“My opinion on that is he’s a [expletive] idiot,’’ said Batista, who is David Michael Bautista in real life, in an interview with TMZ Sports.

“My mom happens to be a lesbian so I don’t (expletive) take that (expletive). I don’t think it’s funny,” he added. “If anyone called my mother an animal I’d stick my foot in his a**.”

Batista said he still respects the boxing icon, explaining it was Pacquiao’s derogatory remarks that he could not take.

‘’I wish him the best, stay healthy and appreciate his talent, you know, he’s a Filipino,’’ said Batista. ‘’But as far as his personal view, I don’t know where he got this garbage.’’

Leni: Freedom to love, live is a right

Liberal Party vice presidential candidate Leni Robredo reminded Pacquiao that freedom to choose who to love and live with is a basic right.

 “The choice of who we are going to love and who we are going to live with is a basic human right. That must be respected by others who have differing beliefs,” Robredo, a lawyer, told reporters.

“It’s unfortunate that there appears to be discrimination, judgment, because the essence of democracy is to give voice to all sectors no matter how small they are; to listen to all; to respect each others’ preference even if we believe in different religions,” she added.

She explained that while she does not subscribe to same-sex unions being a devout Catholic, she believes the government must open the debate on the controversial matter.

“I’m pushing for government to listen to these voices, to open the debate (on same-sex union) because your preferences don’t make you less Filipino,” she said.

Robredo said she has been fighting discrimination for years, even filing the Anti-Discrimination Bill “that in essence simply states that whatever our beliefs are, religion, culture, sex, preferences, age, there should be no discrimination — everyone should be able to freely express themselves.”

The partymates of the world boxing icon in the United Nationalist Alliance have appealed to the public to continue supporting him amid his controversial remarks against homosexuals.  – Paolo Romero, Helen Flores

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