livingfaith-roadVatican Guidelines on Road Use

Participating in the press conference were Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino and Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, respectively president and secretary of that pontifical council.

The document - published in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian - is divided into four sections: 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.

Cardinal Martino indicated 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.

'Its 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.'

Commenting on the first part of the document, Cardinal Martino expressed the view that '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.' 

Evangelization of the Road

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."

For his part, Archbishop Marchetto explained the remaining three parts of the document: pastoral ministry for the liberation of street women, the pastoral care of street children, and the pastoral care of the homeless.

In order to respond effectively to the first of these, said the archbishop, 'it is important to understand the factors that push ... women into prostitution, the strategies used by intermediaries and traffickers to make them submit to their will, the paths along which they move from their countries of origin to those of destination, and the institutional resources needed to face the problem.'

Fortunately the international community and many non-governmental organizations are seeking ever more energetically to combat criminal activities and to protect the victims of human trafficking, developing a vast range of resources to prevent the phenomenon and to rehabilitate its victims back into social life.

'The Church,'' he added, 'has the pastoral responsibility to defend and promote the human dignity of those exploited by prostitution, and to work towards their liberation, providing economic, educational and formative support to this end.

'She ... must also prophetically denounce the injustices and violence perpetrated against street women and invite people of good will to commit themselves to the defense of their human dignity, ... putting an end to sexual exploitation.'

Street Children

Archbishop Marchetto described the issue of street children, as 'a phenomenon of unimaginable proportions, ... 150 million according to the International Labor Organization.

He identified its causes in 'the increasing disintegration of families, ... immigration which uproots people from their familiar environment and disorientates them, and conditions of extreme poverty.'

'In order for children to have a future in life, it is of fundamental importance to infuse in them a feeling of self-confidence, self-respect and dignity, ... in order for them to develop a genuine desire to resume studying ... and to create dignified and gratifying life projects, through their own efforts and not dependent upon others.

In this area, he continued, 'it is necessary to seek out and meet the young people in the places they gather, on the streets, ... and in the '''hotspots'' of our metropolises.

'Generally speaking, street dwellers are considered with diffidence and suspicion, and the fact of not having a house becomes the start of a progressive loss of rights. Thus they become a multitude without a name and without a voice, incapable of defending themselves or of finding the resources to improve their future.'

Fortunately, 'there is no lack of pastoral responses, ... though insufficient, by parishes Catholic organizations ecclesial movements and new communities. There are people who go out to seek these brothers and sisters in need, creating a network of friendship and support and giving life to generous initiatives of solidarity.'

In closing, Archbishop Marchetto highlighted 'the close link of the pastoral care of the road with its source, Christ the Lord in the mystery of His incarnation, and with the Church and her preferential option for the poor, who must be evangelized while respecting everyone's freedom of conscience and letting oneself, in turn, be evangelized by them.'

Ten Commandments Of The Road

The Drivers' Ten Commandments, as listed by the document, are:

  1. You shall not kill.
  2. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.
  3. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events.
  4. Be charitable and help your neighbour in need, especially victims of accidents.
  5. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin.
  6. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so.
  7. Support the families of accident victims.
  8. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness.
  9. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.
  10. Feel responsible toward others.

 

Copyright © Vatican Information Service, Vatican City, 19 June 2007