Vatican Speaks Up on Road Rage

Document Addresses Facets of Ministry to Travelers

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 19, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Negligence on the road results annually in 1.2 million deaths and 50 million injuries, a grim statistic that a Vatican official noted as he presented the "Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road."



The document from the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers was released today. Its four sections cover issues ranging from road rage to ministering to prostitutes. And the document includes a list of "ten commandments" for drivers.

The document was published in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian. The four sections are titled: The pastoral care of road users, pastoral ministry for the liberation of street women, the pastoral care of street children, and the pastoral care of the homeless.

The guidelines seek to "create a coordination between all the ecclesial realities of the world of the road and motivate the episcopal conferences of the countries in which this pastoral ministry does not exist, so that they organize one," Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, explained when presenting the document.

The cardinal stressed a point from the document's first section: that roads be "at the service of the human person, as instruments to facilitate the life and integral development of society."

The guidelines make a distinction between the use and abuse of roadways and note the "particular psychology of the driver" that, in a negative sense, can lead one to see as "limitations the prohibitions that road signs designate." The driver can also be led by a "dominating instinct," the document explains.

Thus, Cardinal Martino said, "It is of fundamental importance that the driver behaves responsibly and with self-control when he drives."

Moral aspects

Cardinal Martino affirmed that driving also has a moral aspect: "The capacity to exist together and enter into relationships with others presupposed, on the part of the driver, some specific qualities: self-control, prudence, courtesy, an adequate spirit of service.

"We know that, as a consequence of transgressions and the lack of discipline on the road, each year, on the roadways of the world, 1.2 million people die, and 50 million are wounded … a sad reality, and at the same time, a great challenge both for society and for the Church."

In the face of this reality, the 74-year-old cardinal encouraged both the Church and the state, each in their own way, to "create a general and public awareness of that which relates to security on the road and promote […] an adequate education of drives, travelers and pedestrians."

The commandments

The document highlights four virtues to apply on the road and offers the drivers' "ten commandments."

The virtues are charity, prudence, justice and hope.

And the commandments include:

-- "The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.

-- "Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin.

-- "Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness."