It was the unexpected punch and not his shift to another religious group that caused Manny Pacquiao’s knockout defeat at the hands of Mexican rival Juan Manuel Marquez, an official of the Cebu Archdiocese said yesterday.
“His change of religion has nothing to do with his defeats. We really just have limitations. Manny wasn’t able to see Marquez’s punch coming,” said Msgr. Esteban Binghay, episcopal vicar.
Still, Bingay echoed the dismay of several Filipino Catholics about Pacquiao’s falling away from his traditional faith and joining a charismatic Christian group.
“Manny is considered a sports idol by Filipinos, a symbol of sports and faith. Catholics expected him to bring that symbol of faith to the world of sports. But he took that away from him. Catholics got disappointed,” Binghay said.
Several noticed that Pacquiao didn’t make the sign of the cross or wear the rosary around his neck – a practice he used to do during his previous fights.
He stopped practicing Catholic rituals since he went up against Timothy Bradley last June 9—a boxing match he also lost.
He joined the Victory Church led by Pastor Jeric Soriano, which emphasizes Bible study. One online report describes the Victory Church as a non-denomnational Evangelical charismatic church based in the Philippines.
Pacquiao, Saranggani’s congressman, was knocked down by Marquez in the sixth round pf a non-title fight at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas last Dec. 8.
For Catholics, Dec. 8 is a major church feast honoring Mary as the Immaculate Conception which is accepted as church dogma that Mary was conceived without the stain of original sin as the mother of God.
After his loss Pacquiao’s mother Dionesia lashed out at the pastors surrounding her son, saying he spent many nights up late for Bible study sessions with them instead of getting the rest he needs.
Dionesia also lamented her son’s abandoning his Catholic beliefs, such as praying the rosary and reverence for Mary.
The rosary is a Marian devotion dating back to the 16th century with a series of prayers which contemplate the life, death and mission of Jesus Christ.
“Mama Mary was given to us to be our companion. She is with us as we ponder on Jesus,” said Binghay referring to the rosary.
Binghay emphasized that Pacquiao’s defeat should not be blamed on his new church. Binghay said Pacquiao’s recent downfall, nonetheless, has a message.
“We can’t be certain of anything. The circumstances don’t put us on top at all times. That’s what we call the wheel of life—sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down,” he said.
Binghay said Pacquiao couldn’t have boxing, politics, and showbiz all together.
“We are human beings. We are limited. None of us is supreme. No matter how great we are, there will be an end to everything,” he said.
Dr. Rene Josef Bullecer, Human Life International director, said he hopes Pacquiao will still vote against the RH bill.
“As of now, he’s on our list (of congressmen against the RH bill),” he said. /Ador Vincent Mayol, Reporter