(Approved English version of ‘Ek Ulo’ (CP-Cir/185/2009), written originally in Konkani)
Road accidents involving two-wheelers have been taking a toll on young lives in recent years and, as reported in our newspapers, this is becoming a matter of grave concern to various entities. The Superintendent of Police (Traffic) himself has written to us, informing that the situation is serious, especially as a good number of fatalities are due to either the drivers or the pillion riders not wearing crash helmets.
I too wish to express my concern in this regard. If not all, at least a good number of these tragedies are avoidable and it is our responsibility to avert them. This responsibility vests primarily on the two-wheeler driver and the pillion rider – and is discharged, to a successful degree, by wearing a helmet. Two-wheelers are not the only cause of the fatalities on the road; other vehicles too are accountable for them. Such mishaps occur mainly when vehicles are driven with high speed or under the influence of alcohol or even by inexperienced drivers.
In this context, therefore, we need to take into consideration a few points.
First of all, we are to remember that our lives as well as other peoples’ lives are precious. Our life is a gift of God and no one has the right to expose it unnecessarily to danger. Road traffic, therefore, needs to be seen with the eyes of faith. Indeed, as we walk or drive along the road, we meet other human persons --- our own brothers and sisters --- as pedestrians or fellow-drivers.
In this light, I would like to quote the late Pope Paul VI in his address to the members of the Automobile Club of Italy, in 1972: “One brother still kills another, not only in the hotbeds of war around the world, but also on the roads, when he fails to observe strictly the rules of road traffic. (…) We thus raise our voice firmly once again to invite and exhort all men of good will to work together so that civil and Christian behaviour, inspired by the Gospel values of fraternity, courtesy, mutual respect and help will enter more deeply and finally become visible in this sector which, like every other sector in human life, is also subject to the precise norms of the Law of God and the moral conscience. We encourage the Authorities and Bodies, like yours, which are dedicated to this noble end; and we invite you to not lose heart, confident that man’s innate nobility will also be affirmed more and more in road education.”
It is in this perspective that I make this fervent appeal to our Parish Priests, Assistants to Parish Priests, Chaplains and educational personnel, particularly those responsible for the formation of young men and women. Let this message reach out to the people, especially the youth. Kindly explain to them its contents, so that the flock under our care and other people of goodwill may experience the effects of the shepherding we exercise in the name of Jesus also in the area of traffic discipline.
Archbishop’s House, Panjim, Goa, June 6, 2009.
( + Filipe Neri Ferrão)
Archbishop of Goa and Daman