Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People
People on the Move
N° 104 (Suppl.), August 2007
PRESENTATION OF THE Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road
BY ARCHBISHOP AGOSTINO MARCHETTO
AIRED BY VATICAN RADIO
(14 June 2007)
Questions and answers
Q: Your Excellency, would you like to speak briefly about the document?
A. The Document is an outcome of the solicitude of the Church for the “users” of the roads and railways, aiming also at women and children of the street, and those without fixed dwellings, as a response to the needs of a specific pastoral care that is part of the missionary objectives of the Church.
The aim of this Document is to stimulate pastoral action in all the ecclesial realities present in the world of the street-road, and to encourage both the Bishops’ Conferences that have already set up this type of pastoral care, by helping them get organized, as well as those who have as yet no such structures, even if we may only have means.
These Guidelines are also the fruit of a long process of listening, reflecting and discerning, which led to a careful and profound study, with the participation of Bishops, Members and Consultors of our Dicastery, as well as experts. We also consulted Church institutions which are not directly involved in this kind of pastoral care, so that it could be appropriately situated in the broader framework of the universal mission of the Church. It will therefore be the task of the local Churches to adapt the criteria, indications and suggestions contained in the document to the concrete situation in a given time and place.
Q: What is the content of this Document?
A. The document is divided into four distinct parts, considering the specificity and breadth of the problems connected with the road as a pastoral environment. The first part is dedicated to the pastoral care of the users of the road (car drivers, truck drivers, etc.) and the railways, and to those working in the various services connected with the road. In this section the Document presents the phenomenon of human mobility limited to the street, which asks for the attention and the pastoral charity of the Church. It also offers indications and suggestions on problems regarding road safety, that is, those related to serious accidents that cause deaths and injuries. The second part cincerns the pastoral care for the liberation of women of the street. They live from and in the streets. Prostitution is a form of slavery that can also involve men and children. Sexual exploitation and prostitution linked to trafficking in human beings are acts of violence that are an offence to human dignity and a serious violation of fundamental human rights. The third part is about the pastoral care of street children. Undoubtedly this is one of the most alarming challenges both to the Church and to civil society. It is a phenomenon with unexpected dimensions: a population, one could say, whose numbers is increasing. At present they are already about a hundred million children. The fourth part is dedicated to the pastoral care of those who are homeless. They live and sleep on the streets or under the bridges and they represent one of the many faces of poverty in modern society. The Church, with its preferential option for the poor and the needy, encourages Christians to accompany and serve these persons, whatever may be their moral or personal situation.
Q: Excellency, you mentioned problems regarding road safety, meaning accidents. Can you give us some figures in this regard?
A. The aim of many institutions, including ours, is to fight the aggressive behaviour of car drivers, hoping to discourage aggressive driving and to encourage, instead, courteousness and respect for other users of the road, thus diminishing accidents and the number of deaths and injuries.
Regarding the number of people involved in accidents, every year, more than 1,200,000 persons all over the world die in street accidents, while 50 million are injured. In the European Union only, 40.000 people die of car accidents every year and 1,700,000 get injured. In Italy deaths count 8,000 and the number injured of 300,000. We have to underline the fact that 90% of these accidents are caused by the human factor.
In looking at these problems, civil and Church institutions must work out a better coordination of energy and resources in promoting human dignity, including that of the users of road. This means that it is important to develop an educational program together with organizations responsible for road safety, so as to reduce these tragic happenings and the terrible figures that have been cited.
Q: To conclude, what message would Your Excellency like to give us?
A. I hope that the indications and suggestions contained in these Guidelines will console and encourage all those who are already involved, directly or indirectly, in the pastoral care of the road. May it also attract new forces in the service of this specific pastoral care.
Therefore, in the spirit of the Good Samaritan, the Church has a word to say, something of its own to offer, to the world of human mobility. She does whatever she can, so that aid, solidarity and spiritual support should not be lacking in this field.