By Jocelyn R. Uy
Philippine Daily Inquirer
To some, boxing champion and Saranggani Rep. Manny Pacquiao may be losing his marbles, but for some bishops of the Catholic Church he just may be a modern-day Filipino saint.
“Let him be called crazy because when God converts people, others cannot understand whether it is the great grace of God,” said Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes, who was ecstatic about Pacquiao’s decision to heed God’s message and retire from boxing.
Bastes said some of the most revered saints and prophets were called “crazy,” citing St. Francis of Assisi, an Italian monk and son of a wealthy cloth merchant who left everything behind for the sake of the Lord in the 11th century.
“Many saints were called crazy … we can also have some modern saints in the Philippines like Pacquiao,” said Bastes in a phone interview with reporters on Tuesday.
The prelate said he was very happy the world champion was heeding God’s call and was becoming more detached from worldly pursuits.
“I like it. I approve of it 100 percent. Maybe [it’s] because of the prayers of his very devout mother. Every day she prays the rosary that Pacquiao will retire,” said Bastes.
Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez also praised Pacquiao for his decision. “He is a changed man, trying to be an obedient son of God our Father,” he said in a separate phone interview.
Gutierrez said Pacquiao must obey God’s message “soon.”
Pacquiao revealed recently that he was seriously considering retirement after God appeared to him in a dream in January and told him to quit boxing. The eight-time world champion said God told him he had already made something of himself and it was getting “dangerous.”
“He should really retire from boxing. In the Bible, God sometimes appeared to people in their dreams, so the result is very good for him,” said Bastes.
The Catholic Church doesn’t back the sport because of the danger it poses to the boxers, said Bastes.
“We in the Catholic Church, we consider boxing a bit immoral because many people have been killed because of [it],” he said.
Last month 21-year-old Filipino boxer Karlo Maquinto died from a blood clot in the brain following a bout in Caloocan City. He fell into a coma after the match in which he was knocked down twice but still won a majority decision against his opponent.
“So I commend Pacquiao. Let him forget about boxing and make him do other things. Let him become a governor, let him be a Bible ambassador, etc. Just let him forget boxing,” said Bastes.
Earlier, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo revealed that Pacquiao had held a retreat for priests of the Marbel diocese in South Cotabato in his home on March 13.
The Catholic Bishops’ Episcopal Commission on Biblical Apostolate has also invited the boxer to be its “Bible ambassador.”