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Philippine church defends Manny Pacquiao over anti-gay slurs

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The Philippine Catholic church on Sunday defended boxing hero Manny Pacquiao for his opposition to gay marriage, saying he was only quoting the Bible.

But Father Jerome Secillano also said over radio station DZMM that Pacquiao should respect homosexuals and not judge and condemn them after the eight-division world champion last week described them as worse than animals.

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Pacquiao, 37, who converted from Catholicism to an evangelical Protestant faith late in his boxing career, was pilloried by local gay rights groups and celebrities and has lost lucrative commercial endorsements as a result.

Secillano, executive secretary of the Catholic bishops’ public affairs office, said: “This is really in the Bible. There is this quote he (Pacquiao) uses from the Bible and we cannot change that.”

He 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 such 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 said.

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He reiterated that the Catholic church, which counts 80 percent of Filipinos as followers, still opposed legalisation of same-sex marriage.

Church influence has also kept divorce and abortion from being legalised in the Philippines.

However homosexuality is not criminalised and several LGBT figures have become celebrities.

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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.

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

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Pacquiao, a former street kid with little education, has used his fame and fortune to launch a political career.

Already a two-term congressman, he is campaigning to win a Senate seat in May elections. Surveys published before the controversy indicated he will win.

Pacquiao has said his ultimate ambition is to be president of the Philippines.

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Carl Bernstein: There are 7-9 ‘wobbly’ Republicans who want witnesses but Mitch McConnell is trying to block them

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In a CNN panel discussion Wednesday, notorious Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein revealed that there are seven to nine Republican senators who are wavering after the compelling argument that the House has provided for the impeachment. The problem, however, is that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is refusing to allow any break from the party line.

"I think this is a hugely damaging narrative that was laid out today, and that Mitch McConnell understands, and has understood for a while that this hugely damaging narrative was going to affect his members," said Bernstein. "And that his strategy -- I've talked to some Republicans about this -- #MidnightMitch is to wear out his own members so that they don't vote for more witnesses because there are six, seven, eight, nine wobbly Republicans."

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Republican Kevin McCarthy gets taken down by former top GOP colleague

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Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was attacked by a former Republican colleague who alleged McCarthy and his fellow members of Congress have allowed the House GOP to become the official shill for the White House.

In a profile for the New York Times, former Oversight Committee Chairman Tom Davis (R-VA) shamed the GOP House for the way that a once-respectable institution has fallen.

“Congress no longer operates as an independent branch of government, but as an appendage of the executive branch,” said Davis. “He is made for that role.”

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Former senator reveals to Maddow how one brave Democrat can reveal key document in impeachment trial

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Near the end of Wednesday's impeachment trial, Chief Justice John Roberts announced that an agreement had been made to allow senators to read supplemental testimony from Vice President Mike Pence aide Jennifer Williams.

The document will remain classified, despite claims that there is no classified material in the document, only evidence that is damning to the president.

"In terms of this document potentially being improperly classified, which is something that has been raised in writing by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and raised on the floor of the Senate tonight by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)," MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow noted. "Obviously, it was the vice president's office that said it was classified, they are getting publicly criticized for that. If it has been improperly classified and it should be something that the public can see, who adjudicates that?"

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