VATICAN CITY — The council of eight cardinals chosen by Pope Francis to advise him on Church governance and Curial reform will begin their first official meeting tomorrow, Oct.1.
“The institution of the council of cardinals,” said Vatican spokesman Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi in a Sept. 30 press briefing, “is a further enrichment provided by the Pope to the governance of the Church.”
Father Lombardi recalled that the formation of such a council was given as an advisement to the future pope during the general congregation meetings before the conclave.
He emphasized that, so far in his pontificate, Pope Francis has made frequent use of consultation, citing the Sept. 10 meeting with the heads of the Vatican offices and his interest in reviving the working method of the Synod of Bishops as examples.
The Vatican spokesman explained that, in the upcoming days, the council will meet in the private library of the papal apartment, with the working sessions taking place in the morning and in the evening. He clarified that all meetings will be held in private, with no communication as to the contents discussed outside of the council itself.
Father Lombardi noted that since the council’s April institution, members have received numerous documents and suggestions, stressing that one of the important tasks of the council has been to determine which of the topics will be discussed during the meetings.
Although much of the themes under consideration are unknown, Father Lombardi said that the Holy Father has spoken of the pastoral ministry of the family, the theme of the next synod, as well as how the synod will look in the future.
Father Lombardi specifically emphasized that, since this is only the first set of meetings, no major decisions will be made.
“Let's not expect in the course of these three days results, decrees, major documents of any sort.”
He called on those present to be realistic, saying that the only significant news coming from these sessions will be the announcement of the next meeting.
There is no final date for the conclusion of the council’s meetings, but Father Lombardi will give a final briefing for this session on Wednesday.
The council is composed of Cardinals Giuseppe Bertello, Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, Oswald Gracias, Reinhard Marx, Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, Sean Patrick O'Malley O.F.M. Cap., George Pell, Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga and Bishop Marcello Semeraro in the role of secretary.