Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, said this during the most recent edition of the Vatican Television program "Octava Dies," in which he reflected on the occasion of the eighth centenary of the approval of the monastic rule of St. Francis by Pope Innocent III.
Benedict XVI marked the anniversary April 18 by receiving in audience at the pontifical residence at Castel Gandolfo members of the Franciscan family upon the conclusion of their "Chapter of Mats," which began April 15 in Assisi. The gathering was organized on the occasion of the eighth centenary of the approval of the monastic rule of St. Francis by Pope Innocent III.
Explaining the Franciscan charism, Father Lombardi underlined that "all the saints of the Church have the Gospel as a rule of their own life, but in the figure of Francis, it shows through with particular transparency."
"In the poverty, simplicity and charity of Francis," he continued, "Christians have always easily recognized the authenticity of evangelical inspiration, and also, beyond the walls of the Church, men of all religious or human faiths have taken a genuine and strong message of life and peace."
The spokesman said the Franciscans had "an extraordinary charism," and that the order has always wanted "from the beginning to submit itself to the discernment of the authority of the Church."
He noted that the order has always sought to insert "the little 'us' of the community of friars into the great 'us' of the one and universal Church."
Father Lombardi recalled Christ's request to St. Francis to "repair my Church," and Benedict XVI's words last week in which he urged the order to "go and continue repairing the house of the Lord, his Church!"
The spokesman reiterated the Pontiff's invitation to the Franciscans to "continue helping the pastors of the Church to renew the flock of the Lord."
He added that the order is "a gift for all," and one that contributes to the "eternal youth of the Church and peace of the human family."