Here’s the bottom line: The Vatican is hosting a major meeting for the next two weeks on every controversial issue you can think of, but you aren’t allowed to listen in. Or even know the specific agenda.

On Monday, Pope Francis opened the first day of meetings of the Extraordinary Synod by urging the 190 top clergy attending to speak frankly with one another. In the run-up to the meeting, leading cardinals have been speaking out against one another — very unusual in public — with some saying it’s important for the synod be open to change in Catholicism’s understanding and practice on topics from human sexuality to cohabitation and others emphasizing that some teachings are divine law from God and unchangeable.

But the twice-daily, hours-long meetings themselves are closed, no transcripts will be made available and even the topics on which they are meeting are being described only in the most general sense. For example one day the topic is “natural law,” another “different pastoral situations.”

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The only exception was Monday morning’s opening session, which was televised. In that session, Francis urged the clergy there to see no views or topics as taboo.

“You have to say what you feel the Lord tells you to say, without concerns of human respect and without fear,” Francis told the clergy, according to The Associated Press.

A photo tweeted from the opening of the meeting at the Vatican showed two elaborately dressed Swiss guards saluting Pope Francis, who stuck out a hand for a shake. Francis also requested that clergy at the meeting use Italian, instead of Latin, during synod deliberations, which is a change.

The meeting will go on for two weeks, and then in October 2015 another global meeting will be held when clergy will put actual proposals for potential change on the table.

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The Rev. Anthony McLaughlin, a canon law professor at Catholic University, said people watching should not expect any change in core concepts, such as that marriage is undissolvable. However the church’s practices around how it sees a person’s readiness for a “valid” — or recognized — marriage can evolve. Or how it extends Communion, the most important of Catholic sacraments, can be as well, he said. The church needs to update the way it speaks about morality and attempt to convince in modern terms.

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“How do we speak to our own people when clearly it’s not a secret that many, or some Catholics, may not hold as the church believes – how do we convince someone who is within, or without? How from philosophy, reason, logic?” he said Monday. “This includes people with same-sex attraction, or in same-sex unions, or having divorced several times. This is a synod where the emphasis is mercy. But we do have to announce the fundamentals clearly.”

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Speaking at an opening Mass on Sunday, Francis urged the clergy to work with “authentic freedom and humble creativity.”

“Synod assemblies are not meant to discuss beautiful and clever ideas, or to see who is more intelligent. They are meant to better nurture and tend the Lord’s vineyard, to help realise his dream, his loving plan for his people,” he said at St. Peter’s Basilica.

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