... and look both ways before crossing

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jun 19, 2007

Cardinal Renato Martino, the president of the Pontifical Council for Vapid Public Statements, has struck again.

Commenting on the first part of the document, Cardinal Martino expressed the view that "Church and State, each in its own field, must work to create a generalized public awareness on the question of road safety and promote, using all possible means, ... an adequate education among drivers, travelers and pedestrians."

In their homilies, for example, pastors might encourage motorists to use their turn signals. For a sample homily on that topic, consult the works of John Henry Newman.

What? You say Newman never preached about traffic safety? Oh. Maybe he had other things on his mind. Distracted, you know.

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  • Posted by: - Jun. 20, 2007 6:02 PM ET USA

    Leaving aside the issue of prelates bouncing pedestrians off the hoods of their Buicks (google it), isn't there a more serious issue underlying all this? Road rage doesn't just happen all by itself. People aren't Saints for 99.9% of their waking hours and then become Satan Unleashed behind the wheel. If the good Cardinal had been more concrete and used phrases like "vehicular homicide" maybe I could take this more seriously. As it is, his nuance has nonced the Nuncio.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 20, 2007 1:51 PM ET USA

    Removed from the world of close human contact, many otherwise well behaved people become uncharitable and agressive on the road. Surely this is not what the teaching "Be in the world and not of it" points to, although many drive as if they truly are not in or of the world...

  • Posted by: - Jun. 20, 2007 11:21 AM ET USA

    Adamah, I would be willing to bet that more people put their souls at risk through grave sins committed while driving than through sins of human trafficking.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 20, 2007 11:17 AM ET USA

    CCC # 2290 – The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine. Those incur grave guilt who, by drunkenness or a love of speed, endanger their own and others' safety on the road, at sea, or in the air.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 20, 2007 10:31 AM ET USA

    While I agree that safe driving is very important, it is not a worthy topic for a Vatican document. The other issues mentioned....street children, prostitutes, human trafficing.....are certainly worthy topics for a Vatican document.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 20, 2007 8:52 AM ET USA

    Look, this is a serious subject. You would think so if you or someone close to you were injured as a result of aggressive, Unchristian driving. What the Cardinal is saying --- and he is right --- is that when we as Christians propel a couple tons of heavy metal (particularly in Downtown Rome), we need to be mindful of the probable consequences of our actions. It really is not a trite or a stupid idea, even if you choose to make fun of it.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 20, 2007 3:56 AM ET USA

    Ah, the wonders of the Internet: fourteen instances of the word "traffic" in Newman's works: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=site%3Anewmanreader.org+traffic Particularly eloquent is his citation of St. Gregory Nazianzen in Church of the Fathers: "Let another sail for traffic, so I said, and cross the expanse of ocean, and keep constant company with winds and waves, to gain much, if so be, and to risk much ... what I prefer is to remain on land, to plough a small glebe and a dear one..."

  • Posted by: - Jun. 19, 2007 10:08 PM ET USA

    As someone whose life has been drastically altered by a traffic accident (my father was permanently disabled), I think this is an important issue. I've seen so many people, some of them Christians, commit reckless acts on the road, many of which were terribly inconsiderate of the fact that human beings are in the other cars on the road. Why not use the every day issue of driving to point to reckless driving (as well as being a sin) as a symptom of basic selfishness that needs to be repented.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 19, 2007 7:55 PM ET USA

    Get ready for the documents about tooth-flossing and keeping lawns neatly trimmed. Talk about the reign of the banal and trivial! Meanwhile pro-abort pols brazenly receive Holy Communion and we hear nary a word about the evils of contraception from the pulpit. Where's the sense of proportion here???

  • Posted by: - Jun. 19, 2007 7:00 PM ET USA

    This document is long overdue. After all, as the saying goes -- "All roads lead to Rome." :)

  • Posted by: - Jun. 19, 2007 6:28 PM ET USA

    Did anyone--including you, Di--actually read the Vatican's press release? It seems the report is not so much about traffic safety (though that is addressed) as it is about "the pastoral care of road users, pastoral ministry for the liberation of street women, the pastoral care of street children, and the pastoral care of the homeless." What, I ask you, is so wrong or vapid about that? Sometimes Catholics' comments get so cynical they seem almost anti-Catholic! Benefit of the doubt, please!

  • Posted by: - Jun. 19, 2007 5:52 PM ET USA

    Human trafficking IS a terrible problem, as are homelessness and abandoned children. But how on earth do they relate to traffic safety? Only Cdl Martino could come up with this one. I say put the document underneath the car pile-up at a monster-truck rally - or, better yet, just put it in the middle of a Roman roundabout.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 19, 2007 4:54 PM ET USA

    That wouldn't be so surprising if you went to St. Dunstan's in Millbrae (Archdiocese of SF) where last Sunday (Saturday 5PM) the Holy Ghost Father preached against human trafficking. Was very vehement that we should all free our slaves, I guessed, though I wasn't absolutely sure.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 19, 2007 4:02 PM ET USA

    I was just waiting to hear someone say that driving is a moral issue worthy of a document. Indeed, consider how many people are killed or injured on our roads. But the pastors of the church know no more about driving than the rest of us. Rather than preach abstract principles to a nameless congregation, they can begin by putting the focus on sanctity and conversion, and if enough people listen, we would have ... not only safe roads, but safe schools, humane businesses, etc.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 19, 2007 3:54 PM ET USA

    Do you think that the cardinal may need to retire soon? Then, again, based on the driving record of some bishops, maybe such statements have a purpose... Then again, such statements rank right up there with Abp. Gregory's "We have been enlightened..." and the USCCB's piece of work, "Protecting God's Children," directed at the people in the pews instead of the homosexual priests who comprise 80 percent of the pedophile/ephebophile cases brought so far... Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 19, 2007 3:19 PM ET USA

    Woody - priceless - I'm still smiling.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 19, 2007 2:40 PM ET USA

    While one could certainly question the "document-worthiness" of such a topic, there's no denying this is a pertinent pastoral issue. Much matter--grave and light-- for confession comes from driving, as well as much opportunity for the exercise of charity and growth in several Christian virtues. For your penance, yield.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 19, 2007 2:17 PM ET USA

    How many people daily commit mortal sins by reckless and dangerously aggressive driving that endangers their lives and the lives of others? How many people lose their peace and perhaps risk their souls by the attitudes and anger and venom expressed towards other drivers? Yes, there are plenty of moral issues that the pastors of the Church need to address, INCLUDING the driving behavior and attitudes of Christians.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 19, 2007 1:46 PM ET USA

    Tsk, tsk, Uncle Di and Woody. It was Alfred E. Newman who intertwined themes from grammar school safety lectures and the Summa.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 19, 2007 12:04 PM ET USA

    Well if JHN didn't preach about traffic, how come he was made a Car-dinal?

  • Posted by: - Jun. 19, 2007 11:00 AM ET USA

    There will soon be a "document" issued relating to lawn care workers and amusement park operators. A reliable contact told me so. Remember that Gaudium et Spes stated that "nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts." This clearly means that the Church must issue "documents" on every facet of human existence no matter how mundane.