At the end of the International Chapter of Mats marking the 800th anniversary of the first approval of S. Francis's rule for the Friars Minor, Pope Benedict XVI met on April 18, 2009, with many of the participants — including Mid-America's own Bro. Mark Schenk — at his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo and said:
I welcome you with great joy at this happy and historical event which has gathered you: the eighth centenary of the approval of the "Protorule" of St Francis by Pope Innocent III. Eight hundred years have passed and that dozen Friars has become a multitude, scattered across every part of the world and today here, is worthily represented by you. In the past few days you have been meeting in Assisi for what you have chosen to call the "Chapter of Mats", to recall your origins. And at the end of this extraordinary experience you have come together to see the "Lord Pope", as your Seraphic Founder would have said.
I greet you all with affection: the Friars Minor of the Three Obediences, led by their respective Minister General, among whom I thank Fr José Rodríguez Carballo for his courteous words; the members of the Third Order, with their Minister General; the Franciscan women religious and the members of the Franciscan Secular Institutes; and, knowing that they are present in spirit, the Poor Clares who constitute the "Second Order". I am glad to welcome several Franciscan Bishops; and in particular I greet Bishop Domenico Sorrentino of Assisi who represents the Church of Assisi, the native region of Francis and Clare and, spiritually, of all Franciscans. We know how important for Francis was his relationship with Guido, the Bishop of Assisi in that period, who recognized his charism and supported him. It was Guido who introduced Francis to Cardinal Giovanni di San Paolo who then presented him to the Pope, encouraging the approval of the Rule. Charism and Institution are always complementary elements for building the Church.
What can I say to you, dear friends? First of all I would like to join you in thanking God for the long way he has granted you to come, filling you with his benefits. And as Pastor of the whole Church I want to thank him for the precious gift that you yourselves are for the Christian people in its entirety. The tiny stream that flowed from Mount Subasio has become a great river that has made a remarkable contribution to spreading the Gospel throughout the world.
This is just the beginning of a wonderful warm sharing with the friars. To read the entire speech, go to the Vatican site