Bishop: Pacquiao retirement plan the fruit of his mother’s prayers

MANILA, Philippines – A Catholic bishop on Tuesday expressed support for the plan of boxer-politician Manny Pacquiao to retire from boxing soon.

The expression of support came one day after the Sarangani congressman claimed that God had told him, in a dream, to retire from the sport that had made him a global boxing icon and catapulted him to the ranks of the world’s richest athletes.

“I approve of it 100 percent… ge should really retire from boxing because he seems to have been converted [to devoutly follow] the bible, as we have read,” Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes said in an interview.

Bastes, who was once chairman of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ Episcopal Commission for the Biblical Apostolate (CBCP-ECBA), said the call to Paquiao in a dream may have been the result of his mother Dionesia’s constant prayers.

A devout Catholic, Aling Dionesia, a down-on-her-luck woman who now lives a fabled life with her son pampering her with all trappings of wealth, has been known to closet herself in prayer each time he has a fight, because she cannot bear to see him hurt. She started watching his fights only in the last two bouts.

“Maybe because of the prayers of his devout mother. Everyday she prays the rosary, that Pacquiao will retire. Her prayers to God were really heard,” Bastes said.

Even before his reported epiphany, Pacquiao had openly professed his faith, making the sign of the cross and praying for his opponent in the ring before the opening bell for each bout.

His friends said that, for all the gambling, womanizing and other vices attributed to him, it was just a matter of time before Pacquiao would “see the light” and devote himself to spreading the message of the Bible.

Bastes observed that Pacquiao’s devotion to the Bible has made him a changed man and he is taking the word of God seriously.

He noted that the Church had considered boxing immoral because it opposed God’s word which commands people not to kill one another.

“So I commend Pacquiao. Let him forget boxing and make him do other things like being a governor, bible ambassador… let him forget boxing,” he said.

Last Monday, Pacquiao claimed that he had been told by God in a dream to retire soon but declined to reveal how many more bouts he plans before he hangs up his gloves.

He is set to put on the line his World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight crown against undefeated American pugilist Timothy Bradley in Las Vegas on June 9.

Pacquiao, 33, started his career as a professional boxer at 16 years old. He was elected Sarangani Representative in the May 2010 elections.

In January this year, the boxing champ announced that he was turning his back in vices, including gambling, drinking and womanizing.

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