Vatican Tells Motorists: Thou Shalt Drive Carefully

By Francis X. Rocca
Religion News Service
Saturday, June 23, 2007

VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican, taking a detour from its usual pronouncements on faith and morals, on Tuesday issued "Ten Commandments" for drivers in an effort to promote greater traffic safety.

The commandments were part of a document, "Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road," published by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People.

Noting that about 35 million people were killed in traffic accidents over the course of the 20th century -- often because of "downright stupid and arrogant behavior by drivers or pedestrians" -- the document proclaims the need for a "road ethics" based on "theological, ethical, legal and technological principles."

According to the guidelines, driving is a matter of virtue. Charity requires drivers to "allow someone who wishes to drive faster to pass," prudence forbids the use of cellphones behind the wheel, and justice "requires that drivers have a full and precise knowledge of the Highway Code."

The document also recommends praying on the road, in particular the rosary, "which, due to its rhythm and gentle repetition, does not distract the driver's attention."

And, the guidelines said, "the duty to have vehicles serviced should be respected."

The guidelines follow in a tradition of Vatican pronouncements on the need for road safety. Among the authorities cited are statements on the subject by Popes Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI and John Paul II.

Traffic is the subject of only the first half of the 36-page document; the rest addresses the pastoral care of "street women" (prostitutes), "street children" and "the homeless."

The guidelines urge evangelization in the "discotheques and in the 'hottest' areas of our metropolises" and urge soup kitchens to respect "guests' dietary habits . . . in respect of their religious traditions."

The "Ten Commandments" for drivers, as proclaimed by the pontifical council:

I. You shall not kill.

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

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