VATICAN CITY • The special committee of eight cardinals created by Pope Francis with the goal of dramatically reforming the Vatican's governance got off to an "encouraging" start, the Vatican's chief spokesman said Wednesday, with a warning not to expect regular updates.
The Rev. Federico Lombardi said Francis met with the so-called Gang of Eight, or the Vatican G-8, on Tuesday and Wednesday to seek their counsel on possible reforms ranging from pastoral work with families and the role of the laity to the prickly issue of tackling the Vatican bureaucracy.
The group, which is led by Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras and includes Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston, will also meet Thursday, and will gather periodically in the future.
Lombardi cautioned that the closed-door meetings would not produce public documents or statements, and that any changes eventually made as a result of the talks would be made by the pope alone.
"We must abandon the expectation of documents or decisions from this council," Lombardi told reporters Wednesday. "The fruits of this process will be in the good decisions of the pope and from the knowledge of the church, the cardinals, and any others the pope may choose to consult."
Lombardi continued: "This is a long task and there have been many suggestions and contributions. One should not expect conclusions in the short term."
The meetings are taking place in the chapel of the Santa Marta guesthouse, the same place the cardinals gathered for prayer seven months ago on the eve of electing then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as pope.