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Pope slumsIn a series of three reflections Thursday for thousands of priests in Rome for celebrations surrounding the ongoing Jubilee year of mercy, the pontiff said simply: “Mercy gets its hands dirty.”

At the General Audience Wednesday, Pope Francis recalled that Friday, 3 June, the Church celebrates the Solemnity  of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus which he said this year “is enriched by the Jubilee for Priests.”

Pray the Sacred Heart of Jesus for your priests in June

“I invite everyone to pray the Heart of Jesus for the entire month of June and to support with closeness and affection your priests so that they always reflect the image of that Heart full of merciful love,” the Pope said.

The Jubilee for Priests falls on the 160° anniversary of the institution of the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus,  introduced in 1856 by Pope Pius IX.

The pope said he had heard many clergy say “very clerical” things in describing people’s situations to others such as saying “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 pope 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 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.

Full text of first reflection

Second reflection

Third reflection