Pope Francis on Wednesday reminded bishops to turn their sights to the Eucharist – rather than themselves – as the source of unity for the Church.

"The bishop does not gather people around himself, or his own ideas, but around Christ, present in his word and in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood," the Pope said Mar. 4 during an audience with bishops taking part this week in a gathering of the Focolare movement.

"The Bishop is the principle of unity in the Church, but this does not take place without the Eucharist," he said; otherwise, "unity would lose its divine pole of attraction, and would be reduced a solely human, psychological, and sociological dynamic."

Some 60 prelates from around the world have been meeting in Castel Gandolfo Mar. 3-6 for the 38th Conference of Bishop Friends of the Focolare Movement, which is centered on the theme: "Eucharist, mystery of Communion." The Focolare Movement was founded in 1943 to promote the ideals of unity and universal fraternity.

Representatives from what Pope Francis described as the "bloody lands" of Syria, Iraq, and Ukraine, where citizens are facing severe political and religiously-motivated violence, were among those present at the gathering at the Vatican's Paul VI Hall.

Greeting these participants in particular, Pope Francis offered them encouragement that, through Jesus in the Eucharist, they might have the "strength to move forward in faith and hope."

"In the daily celebration of the Mass we are united to you, we pray for you offering the Sacrifice of Christ; and from it the many initiatives of solidarity in favour of your Churches gain their strength and significance."
Focolare's president and co-president, Maria Voce and Jesús Morán, respectively, were also present at the audience.

The charism of the Focolare Movement is "strongly anchored to the Eucharist," Pope Francis told participants gathered in the audience hall.

"The Eucharist guarantees that Christ be at the center," with the Holy Spirit directing "our steps and initiatives" toward "encounter and communion," he said.

"In the school of Jesus … the Bishop gathers the sheep entrusted to him with the offering of his life, himself taking on a form of Eucharistic existence," Pope Francis continued. "And so the Bishop, conformed to Christ, becomes a living Gospel, becomes Bread broken for the life of many with his preaching and his witness. He who is nourished with faith in Christ the living Bread is urged on by his love to give his life for the brothers and sisters, to go out, to go to meet those who are marginalized and despised."