Prior to meeting with the faithful in St. Peter’s Square for his weekly General Audience, Pope Francis met with the Bishops-Friends of the Focolare Movement. The prelates share in the movement’s charism, the principal point of which is promotion of unity.
The Bishops are in Rome for the 38th Meeting, which is currently being held in Castelgandolfo from March 3rd– 6th, reflecting on the theme: “The Eucharist: Mystery of Communion”.
At today’s meeting with the Holy Father, some 60 prelates from 35 countries were present. Maria Voce, President of the movement along with its Vice-president Jesus Moran was also on hand at this morning’s audience.
The Pope addressed the group after a greeting by Cardinal Francis Xavier Kriengsal Kovithavanij, Archbishop of Bangkok and moderator of the Bishops-Friends.
In his discourse, the Holy Father thanked the members for their presence, as well as noting that the theme of the meeting highlights the movement’s charism of unity, which he said was “anchored to the Eucharist.”
“Without the Eucharist, unity would lose its magnet of divine attraction and would reduce itself to a feeling and to a dynamic that is solely human, psychological and sociological,” he said.
“Instead the Eucharist ensures that Christ is at the center, and that His Spirit is there; the Holy Spirit to move our steps and our initiatives of encounter and communion.”
Reflecting on their role as bishops, the Jesuit Pope said that their service is fundamental in promoting unity. However, without the Eucharist, bishops would be unable to gather the people around Christ who is present “in His Word and in the Sacrament of His Body and Blood.”
“The Bishop, conformed to Christ, becomes a living Gospel, he becomes broken Bread for the lives of many with his preaching and his witness,” the Pope said. “Whoever nourishes with faith from Christ, the Living Bread, is driven by his love to give his life for the brothers, to leave, to go out to meeting the marginalized and the despised.”
The Holy Father also took a moment to thank the Bishops who were present from Syria, Iraq and Ukraine. “In the suffering that you are living with your people, you experience the strength that comes from the Eucharistic Jesus, the strength to go forward united in faith and hope,” he said.
Concluding his address, Pope Francis encouraged the prelates to bring forward a renewed commitment towards an “ecumenical path and interreligious dialogue.”
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On ZENIT’s website:
For the full text of the Pope’s address, go to: