The eight-time world boxing champion said gay couples were ‘worse than animals’.

The Philippine Catholic church has defended boxer and politician Manny Pacquiao over his controversial comments on same-sex marriage.

Father Jerome Secillano – of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) – said Pacquiao had done nothing wrong, as he was only quoting the Bible.

“This is really in the Bible. There is this quote he (Pacquiao) uses from the Bible and we cannot change that,’ Secillano told radio station dzMM.

However, the priest conceded that Pacquiao should not have used such offensive language.

Pacquiao sparked criticism across the world earlier this week, after describing gay couples as “worse than animals”.

“It’s common sense. Do you see animals mating with the same sex?” Pacquiao told local broadcaster TV5.

“Animals are better because they can distinguish male from female.

“If men mate with men and women mate with women they are worse than animals.”

Pacquiao issued an apology on social media on Tuesday, shortly after the initial controversy broke – although he later said he had no regrets regarding the comments.

The boxer smiled and joked throughout a training session in his home town on Friday, before telling reporters he had no intention of bowing to his critics.

“What I am saying is right. I mean I am just stating the truth, what the Bible says,” said Pacquiao, 37.

Pacquiao went on to say that he was not bothered about the backlash – despite losing millions in sponsorship after being dropped by Nike, who described his views as “abhorrent”.

“I’m happy. I’m always happy because God is with me,” he said.

And it seems the Filipino electorate are happy too – after it was revealed that the boxer is poised to win one of 12 vacant Senatorial seats in the country’s upcoming elections.

The boxer has recently reinvented himself as a conservative politician – attempting to appeal to the country’s strong Catholic population after years of womanising and hard partying.

Although same-sex sexual activity is not a crime in the Philippines, same-sex marriage is not recognised, and gay couples are unable to adopt.