By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope
Francis told Rome’s priests that offering God’s mercy during the jubilee year
will mean lots of unpaid overtime.
“I think this year there
will be lots of overtime that will not be paid,” he said to laughter.
“But the Lord will give you joy for working overtime, being merciful like
the father,” he said, as he met with them at the Basilica of St. John
Lateran Feb. 11.
On the eve of his Feb. 12-17 visit
to Mexico, which will include a brief stop in Cuba, the pope as usual traveled to
Rome’s Basilica of St. Mary Major. He prayed to Mary for her intercession and
placed flowers on the altar in a side chapel before the basilica’s famous
Marian icon, “Salus Populi Romani” (health of the Roman people).
He then went to St. John Lateran
for his annual Lenten meeting with pastors of Rome parishes and heard
confession from a few priests, according to Vatican Radio.
In a short, unscripted address, the
pope told the priests to make sure they try to understand their people, “to
put themselves in the other’s shoes” and be generous with forgiveness.
Just as doctors and nurses can
heal injuries, priests can alleviate suffering, too, he said. A kind word from
a priest “is so good — very good. It works miracles.”
Being “rigid” or
stingy with forgiveness is the fault of a priest suffering from “the
disease of clericalism.” Every priest is susceptible to this disease, he
said, “everyone, me too. We all have this.”
But they need to remember, he
said, that “we are not princes, we’re not masters. We are servants of the
Priests have to remember that
God became incarnate to be able to embrace and understand people.
“If you do not believe that
God became flesh, you are the Antichrist,” he said. “And that’s not
me saying that. That’s the apostle John who says it.”
Jesus instituted the priesthood
precisely so they could “go and help the people with humility and
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