VATICAN CITY — The Vatican on Tuesday issued a set of the “Drivers’ Ten Commandments,” telling motorists to be charitable to others on the highways, to refrain from drinking and driving, and to pray you make it before you even buckle up.
An unusual document from the Vatican’s office for migrants and itinerant people also warned that automobiles can be “an occasion of sin” – particularly when they are used for dangerous passing or for prostitution.
It warned about the effects of road rage, saying driving can bring out “primitive” behavior in motorists, including “impoliteness, rude gestures, cursing, blasphemy, loss of sense of responsibility or deliberate infringement of the highway code.”
It urged motorists to obey traffic regulations, drive with a moral sense and to pray when behind the wheel.
Cardinal Renato Martino, who heads the office, said at a news conference that the Vatican felt it necessary to address the pastoral needs of motorists because driving had become such a big part of contemporary life.
He noted that the Bible was full of people on the move, including Mary and Joseph, the parents of Jesus – and that his office was responsible for dealing with all “itinerant” people – from refugees to prostitutes, truck drivers to the homeless.
“We know that as a consequence of transgressions and negligence, 1.2 million people die each year on the roads,” Martino said. “That’s a sad reality, and at the same time, a great challenge for society and the church.”
The document, “Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road,” extols the benefits of driving – family outings, getting the sick to the hospital, allowing people to see other cultures.
But it laments a host of ills associated with automobiles: Drivers use their cars to show off; driving “provides an easy opportunity to dominate others” by speeding; drivers can kill themselves and others if they do not get their cars regular tuneups, if they drink, use drugs or fall asleep at the wheel.
The document calls for drivers to obey speed limits and to exercise a host of Christian virtues: charity to fellow drivers, prudence on the roads, hope of arriving safely and justice in the event of crashes.
And it suggests prayer might come in handy – performing the sign of the cross before starting off and saying the Rosary along the way. The Rosary was particularly well-suited to recitation by all in the car since its “rhythm and gentle repetition does not distract the driver’s attention.”
The document is intended for bishops conferences around the world, and as such offered recommendations for their pastoral workers.
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 neighbor 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.