Pastoral care of the road, instrument of progress, but occasion of sin
A Vatican document sets out guidelines for drivers, appeals for the liberation of women who work the streets and for the punishment of their clients, help for street children by seeking them out in the “hot spots” of the modern metropolis and urges greater comfort for the homeless.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – A set of “guidelines” for drivers, steps to take against the “modern day slavery” of prostitution – to “free” the women, at the same time punish and “cure” their clients – as wells as initiatives to help street children and give comfort to the homeless.  These are the four aspects examined by the guidelines for “pastoral care of the road” issued today in the Vatican by the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant peoples.

The document starts with “road users”, motorists and pedestrians.  It highlights the psychological aspects of the motorist, from the “pleasure of driving” to the drivers “expression of power anddomination,” and “vanity and personal exaltation”. “Coexistence is a fundamental aspect of human beings and roads should therefore be more human.” There is an “obligatory Highway Code” and the principal that “When drivers endanger their own and other people’s lives, and the physical and mental wellbeing of persons”, “they are guilty of a serious shortcoming”. “Even dangerous overtaking is an occasion of sin” clarified Card. Renato Raffaele Martino, president of the Pontifical Council, presenting the document.

Contrary to this are the Christian virtues – justice, prudence and charity – which the driver should practise.  There is also prayer, a driver should make the sign of the cross before undertaking a journey and during the journey the rosary “for its rhythm and gentle repetition, should not hinder the drivers concentration”.  This is where the “Commandments” for drivers originate beginning with “I: You shall not kill. And continue II. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm. III. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events. IV. Be charitable and help your neighbour in need, especially victims of accidents.  V. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin.  VI. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so.  VII. Support the families of accident victims.  VIII. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness. IX. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party”. 

In short the objective is to promote “road ethics”, to which the Church feels it should and must contribute, by both denouncing dangerous situations, through formation in its various institutions to the point of urging Catholic radios to become “more active in the field, through songs whose content are not superficial and by exploiting their unique opportunity for promoting personal formation”, as well as indicating initiatives such as “periodically celebrating the liturgy in great road junctions, roadside diners, car parks and trucks”.

Entitled “Pastoral care for the liberation of street women” from the very outset the second part of the document announces its intention, affirming that “Prostitution is a form of modern slavery which may also affect men and children”. It is an “acts of violence, which constitute an offence to human dignity and a serious violation of fundamental rights”.

The phenomenon, which is on the increase, is caused by “a set of complex economic, social and cultural reasons”, beyond migratory phenomenon, prostitutions “victims” are human beings.  This explains the Churches involvement, “it a pastoral responsibility to defend and promote the human dignity of persons exploited by prostitution and to advocate for their liberation, even providing economic, educational and formational support for this purpose”.

 “In a certain sense” the client too is a slave, “a person who has deep problems” and this is why he should be helped.  In this line of thought a penal sanction may have some affect.   “An effective measure towards cultural change with respect to prostitution could derive from associating criminal law with social condemnation”. 


Regarding street children, “Street children are one of the most difficult and worrying challenges of our century for both the Church and civil society”, the document reveals that the phenomenon is borne of the current crises of the family, and forms of social deviance, drugs, alcohol, robberies and various other expedients necessary for survival, and that it is a “a problem of unexpected magnitude, regarding around 100 million children, and is on the increase almost everywhere. It constitutes a real social emergency, as well as a pastoral on”. These children are in need of “a specific pastoral care, characterized by the proposal of new strategies”. It is also time that these new strategies “pass from the pastoral care of waiting to the pastoral care of meeting”, by “acting with imagination, creativity and courage, to reach children in the new places where they gather, in streets and squares, as well as in the various clubs, in the discotheques and in the “hottest” areas of our metropolises” with the Spirit of the Good Shepherd.  

The same care must be given to those whose home is the road. “Initiatives on behalf of the homeless should be innovative, in order to finally break the binomial of a simple response to need and looking beyond in the attempt to recognise the value of the person”. (FP)