Manny Pacquiao's defeat to Juan Manuel Marquez may have been partly caused by his change in religious beliefs, but the knockout was "self-inflicted" and not an act of a "vengeful God," an official of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines said.
"God himself does not inflict pain on anybody. Whatever pain we encounter is the effect of the evil in us," said Francis Lucas, executive secretary of CBCP's Episcopal Commission on Social Communications and Mass Media.
"Our God is not a vengeful God but a God of love," he told Yahoo! Southeast Asia in a phone interview.
Retired Lingayen Archbishop Oscar Cruz concurred, adding in a separate phone interview that although he respects "the pious thoughts, it is very difficult to validate such assertions."
He meanwhile urged the Filipino public to "respect Manny's beliefs."
"Although he is a born-again Christian, I have been told that he does not have any vice at hindi nagsusugal kaya mabuhay siya (and does not gamble so good for him)," Cruz said.
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Lucas did not discount the possibility, however, that Manny's abandonment of his devotion to the rosary and other doctrines of the Catholic faith may have impacted the boxing legend's performance.
"If you are devoted to something and you suddenly let go of that devotion, it entails a shaking of the psyche," Lucas said.
"It was a lucky punch, so they claim, still, there must have been something amiss in Manny which disabled him from dodging it," the priest added.
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This, as he noted that Manny "does not do what he used to do," including openly wearing a rosary right before fights, and the breaking of such habit coincided with a "losing streak."
The same observation has been espoused by sports commentators and netizens hours after Pacquiao bowed down to Marquez Sunday.
Even the athlete-turned-politician's mother scolded him on public television for no longer wearing the rosary as he used to while entering the boxing ring.
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As for Lucas, he said whatever God's message is in Pacquiao's loss is subject to personal interpretation.
Manny himself, he said, should discern its meaning.
"What I can say for my part is that if Manny has been receiving all the blessing when he was devoted to the Catholic faith, why did he not keep it?" Lucas said.
The Philippines on Saturday shot back at Beijing's criticism of its activities in the South China Sea, saying they were "in no way comparable to China's massive reclamation activities" in the waters. It also said accusations that Manila was being "hypocritical" would not distract people from Beijing's own actions which were raising regional tensions. "The Philippines' possible undertaking of necessary maintenance and repairs on its existing facilities in the West Philippine Sea... is in no …