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On the Pastoral Care of the Road

"God Joined Man in His Condition as a Traveler"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 24, 2007 (Zenit) - Here is the text of the final document released by the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers on the 2nd International Meeting on the Pastoral Care of the Road, held Dec 1-2.

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II International Meeting on the Pastoral Care of the Road
Vatican City, 1-2 December 2006

"On the Road to Sustainable Mobility"


I. The Event

The II International Meeting on the Pastoral Care of the Road took place on December 1st and 2nd, 2006, in the offices of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, at Palazzo San Calisto, Vatican City.

The participants were 5 Bishops, several National Directors or Representatives of the Bishops' Conferences, and experts, from 21 countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Chile, Croatia, Czech Republic, England, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain, including a representative of the Latin-American Bishops' Council (CELAM). There were also delegates from "Die Akademie Bruderhilfe-familienfürsorge" and the Italian National Association of Sociologists. Also to be noted is the presence of a chaplain working for the pastoral care of the railways and of 3 representatives of the pastoral care of the inhabitants of the streets (street children, women of the street and the homeless).

The best wishes, conveyed by the message of the Holy Father Benedict XVI, were particularly heartening. He expressed sincere appreciation for the initiative "which intends to examine more profoundly and promote pastoral action for those who work or are found living on the streets", with the hope "that ecclesial attention would always be nourished by constant love and generous resolutions of exemplary witness to the Christian faith."

The President of the Pontifical Council, His Eminence Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, greeted the participants and underlined the fact that to defend life it is necessary to observe traffic rules, because breaking them would "lead to serious loss of human lives." However, since this sector is made up of different categories, he stated that the meeting intends to give an opportunity to reflect on the "pastoral needs of the sector, according to its various expressions … and try to offer appropriate responses." However, particularly "through an exchange of varied experiences", it will be possible to identify "the most appropriate means to assist travelers and transportation workers, as well as inhabitants of the street."

Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, Secretary of the Dicastery, introduced the sessions by linking "the apostolate of the road to the sign of the times, [specifically] human mobility", which includes two broad aspects: migration and itinerancy. He subsequently listed out the people to whom this pastoral care is addressed: "drivers and their companions, as well as those engaged in occupations that serve their needs", without forgetting, however, the inhabitants of the road, i.e. street children, women of the street and the homeless. The Archbishop defined the pastoral care of the road and the street as "the gaze of the Good Samaritan" which must be concretely translated into "a presence of welcome and service, in the broad sense of the term". Finally, Archbishop Marchetto explained the objective of the meeting, which is that of "collocating our specific task, which has a real and social perspective", within the context of our "evangelizing mission and the promotion of human life", including a "renewed proposal of ethical and Christian values".

The first day was dedicated to the pastoral care of professionals and users of the road, as well as of workers in services for their benefit. The sessions began with a presentation by the Archbishop emeritus of Sens-Auxerre, H.E. Msgr. Georges Gilson. He identified the invention of the internal combustion engine and the reaction engine as one of the technical revolutions of our times, significant for the transport of persons and things. It "multiplied our capacity to run, to move and to travel by ten". However, man is the person in command of the motor vehicle, and not the engine. He has the authority to decide at what speed he would travel and whether or not to obey traffic rules. The human person is therefore responsible towards himself, his own life and that of others, and towards the environment. Thus, it is necessary to educate people towards "sustainable" mobility, so as to guarantee road safety and social responsibility, as well as to carry out the Lord's command: "Love one another as I have loved you."

This was followed by a presentation of experiences from Spain, Brazil and Germany.

Bro. Juan Rivera, FSC, National Director for the ...

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