'Love thy neighbor ... on the road'
Vatican pontifical council issues Ten Commandments' for drivers"
VATICAN CITY, June 20, 2007 (www.catholic.org) – Beware Ferrari, Lamborghini and other car owners. According to the Vatican, the car you drive may lead you on a journey to holiness or on the road to physical and moral danger.
In a June 19 release of the document "Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road" in the Holy See Press Officer here, the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People focused on pastoral care of road users, street children and the homeless and pastoral ministry for the liberation of street women.
The document - published in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian – notes that driving can be a positive spiritual endeavor if drivers accept their responsibilities of living their faith behind the wheel.
“Those who know Jesus Christ are careful on the roads,” the document says.
“They don’t only think about themselves, and are not always worried about getting to their destination in a great hurry,” it adds. “They see the people who ‘accompany’ them on the road, each of whom has their own life, their own desire to reach a destination and their own problems. They see everyone as brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of God. This is the attitude that characterizes a Christian driver.”
While acknowledging that “road vehicles give us many advantages” as rapid means of transport, the Vatican document they “may also be abused.”
It points to the some 35 million people who lost their lives in road accidents and to the about 1½ billion who were injured in the 20th century, adding that in 2000 alone there were more than 1.2 million deaths, with 90 percent of accidents estimated to be due to human error.
“The harm caused to the families of those involved in accidents, as well as the protracted consequences for the injured, who all too often are permanently disabled, should also be borne in mind,” it says. “In addition to harm to persons, the enormous damage to material goods should also be taken into account.”
Among unhealthy actions and “unbalanced behavior” that lead to potential accidents, injury and death and certain physical and spiritual danger include: disregard for road signs as “almost a curtailment” of supposed rights; “domination” of other drivers through reckless passing, over-acceleration and/or excessive speed; showing off; driving when physically or mentally incapacitated, under the influence of alcohol and/or other drugs or in a state of exhaustion; reckless use of motorbikes and motorcycles; road rage; cursing and rudeness.
“For some drivers,” the document says, “the unbalanced behavior is expressed in insignificant ways, whilst in others it may produce serious excesses that depend on character, level of education, an incapacity for self-control and the lack of a sense of responsibility.”
In releasing the document at the press conference, Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, said that the idea of preparing this document arose during the First European Meeting of National Directors of the Pastoral Care of the Road, held in 2003.
The document’s aim, he said, "is to guide and coordinate all the ecclesial bodies in the world of the pastoral care of the road, and to encourage and stimulate episcopal conferences of countries in which this form of pastoral care does not exist, to organize it."
"Church and state, each in its own field, must work to create a generalized public awareness on the question of road safety and promote, using all possible means ... an adequate education among drivers, travelers and pedestrians," he said.
Referring to the evangelization of the road, the president of the pontifical council recalled that the church also aims at "the religious formation of car drivers, professional transporters, passengers and all those people who, in one way or another, are associated with roads and railways." In this context, he recalled the fact that in many countries there are "fixed or mobile highway chapels, and pastoral workers who visit motorway service areas and periodically celebrate liturgies there."
The "Ten Commandments" for drivers, as listed in the document, are:
I. You shall not kill.
II. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.
III. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events.
IV. Be charitable and help your neighbor in need, especially victims of accidents.
V. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination and an occasion of sin.
VI. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so.
VII. Support the families of accident victims.
VIII. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness.
IX. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.
X. Feel responsible toward others.