Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Highway to Heaven

Somebody save these people from themselves. There are days when there is no need for satire; people take care of it all by themselves.

Cardinal Renato Martino, head of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, offers us the ten commandments for drivers.

1. You shall not kill. (This one is covered elsewhere, I'm almost certain!)

2. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm. (How about a way of getting from point A to point B? One wonders when the Cardinal last drove.)

3. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events. (Vigilance comes to mind as another good idea.)

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. (Much of my high school dating - ruled out. Cars...occasions of sin... fond memories)

6. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so. (I wonder when he last tried to take the keys from an impaired person. The charitable thing is to get the keys, by hook or by crook. Don't worry about obtaining them charitably -although I suppose you could start there.)

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. (Oh man. Now we know he doesn't drive much -particularly not in Rome.)

9. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.

10. Feel responsible toward others.

We're also supposed to pray in the car. He particularly recommends the rosary.

Okay, let's think.

Yes, car accidents are responsible for an insane number of deaths, injuries, and general tragedy. Yes, people use cars foolishly, dangerously, and flagrantly, to boot. It really could be appropriate for religious leaders to speak out about some of this.

And I'm not offended that he used the ten commandments as a pedagogical tool, although I do wish I'd been at the meetings where they came up with the ten. I do pray in my car -and not only in the "God save me from that moron" kind of way. I think, in fact, my rosary is in the car at this moment.

But does he really think that the most important thing that the office of migrants and itinerant people should deal with is drivers? I'm thinking refugees from wars, starvation, disease, and hurricanes might have other ideas. A riff on "I was a stranger and you made me welcome" might have been more appropriate. The mission statement is on the website, for crying out loud.

Get back to work, fellas. There is much to be done to create a society that Jesus might have envisioned for us. And telling me to pray the rosary while I'm driving kind of misses the mark.

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