Fasten your seatbelts and grab your rosaries, friends. The Catholic Church has swerved the Popemobile off the Highway to Heaven and onto The Road Less Traveled.
Released earlier this summer by the Vatican’s Office for Migrant and Itinerant People (not kidding), Cardinal Renato Martino’s “Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road” is a handy dandy, interdenominational moral compass for drivers who are concerned with both their spiritual and physical destinations.
In related news, AAA has begun conducting midnight mass. Honk if you love Jesus!
But seriously, folks…
“We know that as a consequence of transgressions and negligence, 1.2 million people die each year on the roads,” the Cardinal said, explaining the inspiration for the new rules. “That’s a sad reality, and at the same time, a great challenge for society and the church.”
Apparently the original Ten Commandments, as specified on stone tablets by the Big Guy himself, weren’t specific enough for this gas-guzzling, iPod-connected, contraflow world.
Odd, considering those “don’t”-heavy, Old Testament Top Ten were edited down to a mere pair of New Testament “do’s” by an economically spoken Christ: Humans must love God and each other. Period.
Seems those two simple rules should be enough to govern behavior for drivers of any era, regardless of whether they’re behind the reigns of a chariot or the wheel of a car. Do we really need to be told, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s Aston Martin”?
But what do I know from religion and commandments and chariots? My personal Sunday morning worship service consists of a pot of strong coffee and TV Land’s two-hour block of I Love Lucy. And the people said, “Ay yi yi yi yi yi!”
Nonetheless, below is a list of the new godly guidelines, complete with secular expansion. Clip and attach to supplement your local Judge Roy Wood granite Decalogue.
1. You shall not kill. This one’s pretty self-explanatory. It even made the original set of commandments. But perhaps this live-and-let-live concept may refer to more than just hit-and-run offenses. Could it also be a condemnation of big, bloated SUVs killing the planet?
2. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm. Clara Harris, we’re looking at you.
3. Courtesy, uprightness, and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events. Punchline 1: That boopboopboop back-up alarm helps, too. Punchline 2: Courtesy, Uprightness, and Prudence. Didn’t they tour in the ’60s as the back-up group for The Singing Nun?
4. Be charitable and help your neighbor in need, especially victims of accidents. Remember, that accident victim may take the form of someone with a squeegee limping toward your car at a stoplight. So go ahead and give him or her that spare change in your cup holder, even if your windshield is already clean. After all, it could be Jesus in disguise. You know how religious icons love to play dress up. Pope Benedict XVI, we’re looking at you.
5. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin. Finally, the Cardinal and I come to a point of agreement: Hummer drivers are going to hell (see #1). Or maybe the Cardinal is referring to the “expression of power and domination” in a more carnal nature. Translation: no auto erotica.
6. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so. In others words, friends don’t let friends drive after too much communion wine, although, this commandment could refer to fashion as well. Those gigantic, phallic, bejeweled hats could blow off convertible-driving priests, creating a major obstruction on the freeway. Pope Benedict XVI, we’re looking at you again.
7. Support the families of accident victims. Not so much, though, the families of victims of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy?
8. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness. Because everyone knows there’s nothing better than after-road-rage makeup sex.
9. On the road, protect the vulnerable party. Not so much, though, when the vulnerable party is a political party that supports reproductive choice, GLBT equality, and women in the priesthood?
10. Feel responsible toward others. Make a joyful noise, but turn down the volume, for God’s sake. The 40 cars surrounding your own might not share your musical taste.
While we’re at it, let’s add one more very basic, yet very timely, commandment to the Cardinal’s street talk: Stop and smell the Texas wildflowers.
Lady Bird, we’re looking at you. Rest in peace.