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Posted June 21, 2007

Roadway Commandments

Ten Commandments for drivers were issued June 19 by the Vatican. The Second Commandment requires that the road be “a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.”

This unique Decalogue appears in “Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road” from the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People. Roads and their use deserve pastoral attention, the council says.

“The vast majority of car accidents” result from “serious and unwarranted carelessness -- if not downright stupid and arrogant behavior by drivers or pedestrians,” the council insists. Among its observations, the council says the virtue of prudence is neglected by those who allow “their attention to be diverted by a mobile phone or television while driving.” It says, “Cars particularly lend themselves to being used by their owners to show off and as a means for outshining other people.”

But when accidents occur, pastoral action is needed. The pontifical council even suggests that pastoral leaders “encourage the families of (accident) victims” to practice forgiveness “as a sign, albeit difficult, of human and Christian maturity.

The council encourages “road ethics, which is not different from ethics in general, but is its application.” The council cautions that “when driving a vehicle, special circumstances may lead us to behave in an unsatisfactory and even barely human manner.”

Driving and the mobility it facilitates are positive aspects of life, the council holds. Mobility is linked “with God’s redeeming plan”; traveling “puts people in touch with each other, thereby contributing to the realization of God’s plan of love.” However, diving “presupposes a commitment to mediate between one’s own requirements and the limits imposed by the rights of others.”

In the face of roadway problems, both church and state “should go beyond condemnation and seek to raise overall public awareness regarding road safety,” the council says, adding: “The Gospel message of love applied to the road issue should be spread within society.”

Click here for the Decalogue for Drivers: Here are the Ten Commandments for the road found in the pontifical council’s new document:

“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.”