Firstly: You shall not kill on the road
Milena Kindziuk talks to Fr Marian Midura, national chaplain for drivers, who collaborated with the Vatican council, which prepared the document ‘Guidelines for the pastoral care of the road’.
Milena Kindziuk: – What car do you drive?
Fr Marian Midura: – Opel. In the Centre for Missionary Formation I use this car to pick up missionaries from the airport or to transport various materials for exhibitions or other actions. This car is very useful and efficient. But not a knock-out!
– Exactly. The Vatican instruction warns priests against buying knock-out cars. It also says a lot about driver’s psychology, including the pathology of ‘loving one’s car’. What is the meaning of these words?
– They concern these countries where a car is a ‘deity’, i.e. something more important than other values, and even another person. We mean situations when someone buys more and more valuable cars to impress people, to flaunt. But an automobile is only a tool. And it does not serve to control over the road. Naturally, these words refer to priests in some way…
– ... many a time people bear them a grudge for driving too expensive cars, don’t they?
– Yes, they do. I think that bishops or priests must not drive too exclusive cars, the more that their money basically come from people. On the other hand, a car is useful for clergymen and other people. A priest, who has no wife and children, can afford buying some car, at least a second hand small car. One must remember that such a car is very useful in pastoral ministry, especially when priests must cover large distances in a short time. But one should not wonder that people find elegant priests’ cars offensive. An automobile should serve useful aims. The most important thing is an attentive attitude to possess things, to material things.
– Where did the idea of issuing ‘The driver’s Ten Commandments’ come from?
– Last December, as a delegate of the Polish Episcopate, I participated in a symposium concerning migrants and drivers’ pastoral ministry, which took place in the Vatican. Over twenty people from all over the world, including several bishops, national chaplains for drivers and invited experts discussed pastoral activities in their countries. The final conclusions were used to prepare this document. The council was concerned with the tragic statistics: in the world 3,000 people are killed in road accidents daily; 85% of deaths occur in developing countries. I share the joy that the pastoral ministry for drivers has been well developed in Poland, and priests in other countries adopt many of our activities. The Ten Commandments for drivers from MIVA Polska has had a steady place in pastoral activities.
– We can say that the document is some help to promote safe driving?
– First of all, it should be helpful in pastoral ministry. Let us see that it is firstly directed to clergymen, so its distribution and implementation depend on the way priests use it, how they promote it among people and how they are involved in building drivers’ ministry. And this is what we want. There are so many deaths on our roads that it is worthy making people aware of the problems of safety on the roads.
– The document says that ‘the road becomes a path to holiness’. In what sense?
– Driving makes unconscious inclinations, which you can control when you are not on the road. But when you drive this lack of balance can lead to regression and primitive forms of behaviour. But we read that driving means self-control and has a moral aspect. It means that driving can be experienced in such a way that it will be a way to salvation – by showing kindness to others and helping them. Then driving brings us closer to eternity.
– Therefore, after the publication of the Driver’s Ten Commandments people should confess from sins against these commandments?
– Of course, they should! Every person has to discern in his/her conscience when he/she poses a threat on the road. Aggression and anger behind the driving-wheel lead to accidents, and what is worse, making rude gestures and saying bad words we insult our neighbours... Is our behaviour Christian in such cases?
– Who is then a Christian driver?
– First of all, a Christian driver is sober. And it is love that leads him or her on the road. Love is the most important thing in Christianity. Love for another person whom I need not overcome on the road at all cost. Love for those who go with me so that nothing wrong happens to them; love for pedestrians, love for bikers and for all people we meet on the road.