Pope discourages priests from seeing people as ‘cases’

Pope Francis has exhorted priests not to see people who approach them for spiritual help merely as “cases” to be handled.

In a series of reflections for priests who had come to Rome as part of the Year of Mercy celebrations, the Pope said: “Mercy gets its hands dirty.”

Francis said he had heard many clergy say “very clerical” things in describing people’s situations to others.

Examples of such comments are “I have found this case”, as if to indicate: “I won’t touch it, I won’t dirty my hands. I’ll make a ‘clean’ pastoral work.”

“Mercy touches, it gets involved, it gets caught up with others, it gets personal,” Francis told the priests.

“It does not approach ‘cases’ but persons and their pain.”

“Mercy exceeds justice; it brings knowledge and compassion; it leads to involvement,” the Pontiff continued.

“By the dignity it brings, mercy raises up the one over whom another has stooped to bring help. The one who shows mercy and the one to whom mercy is shown become equals.”

The Pontiff was speaking on Thursday in three separate reflections to priests gathered in retreat at three different Rome basilicas – St John Lateran, St Mary Major, and St Paul’s Outside the Walls.

During his reflections, Francs reminded priests it is “important to forgive completely, so that others can look to the future without wasting time on self-recrimination and self-pity over their past mistakes”.

“Mercy is always tinged with hope. Mercy is the mother of hope.”

Francis also said that “we can find the definitive icon of the vessel of mercy in the wounds of the risen Lord”.

Explaining that Jesus kept the wounds of his crucifixion after his Resurrection, and that he may even have them in Heaven now, Francis said: “Those wounds remind us that the traces of our sins, forgiven by God, never completely heal or disappear; they remain as scars.”

“God’s mercy is in those scars,” said Francis.

“In the scars of the risen Christ, the marks of the wounds in his hands and feet but also in his pierced heart, we find the true meaning of sin and grace.”


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