The following comes from an August 2 Catholic World Report Blog post by Catherine Harmon:


One of the highlights of this weekend’s Napa Institute was a bishops’ panel discussion of modern challenges facing the family and expectations for the upcoming Synod on the Family. Moderated by George Weigel, the panel featured, among others, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna.

After a brief introduction by Weigel, each bishop in turn discussed the particular challenges to marriage and family life that he has observed in his home diocese, as well as what he hopes to see from this October’s gathering of the Synod of Bishops.

Cardinal Schönborn began the conversation on a personal note: he related the pain he experienced when told, at the age of 13, that his parents were getting a divorce. This experience and his work as a pastor in a country with a very high divorce rate have informed his hopes for the upcoming synod.

“What I expect from the synod is a clear word to parents all over the world: have mercy on your children,” Cardinal Schönborn said. “This is a message I hoped that the synod of last October would have conveyed—there was little word about the children.”

The cardinal described his own pastoral approach to divorced couples, stating that he does not focus, primarily, on the highly controversial question of Communion. “My first and most essential point is not to ask the question of whether the Church is merciful to the divorced, but whether the divorced were merciful to their children. … If you ask mercy of the Church, I must ask you the question: did you put the burden of your conflict on the shoulders of your children? This is deeply unmerciful.”

Cardinal Schönborn said that he hoped that the upcoming synod would maintain “a strong encouragement against divorce.”

“I hope that the synod is not stuck only on the problem of divorce but is mainly encouraging matrimonial fidelity,” he said. “There is no mercy without truth. … Mercy without truth is wobbly, truth without mercy is harsh.”

“What we need in the synod is a message of the healing power of God’s mercy,” the cardinal continued. “How to translate that into practice—that will be the big challenge of the synod.”