VATICAN CITY - POPE Benedict XVI urged drivers to stay 'sober and alert' on Sunday and prayed for those who have died in traffic accidents.
'On this third Sunday of November, we remember in a special way all those who have died as a result of traffic accidents,' the pope said as he delivered the Angelus prayer in St Peter's Square.
'Dear brothers and sisters, I implore everyone - drivers, passengers and pedestrians - to heed carefully the words of Saint Paul in the liturgy of the word today: Stay sober and alert,' he added.
An initiative by the European Federation of Road Traffic Victims has made the third Sunday of November a day of remembrance for road traffic victims. --
My younger brother Joseph, was killed by an underage drunk driver on July 5th, 1997. He was on his way home (only three blocks) from visiting our youngest brother, Mark, who at the time was hospitalized for leukemia. The tragedy was so stressful that six months later, my dad (who had been battling leukemia) passed away as well.
The underage drunk driver got his blood alcohol results suppressed as evidence on a bizarre legal technicality. This unrepentant young man manipulated the legal system to his advantage. Seven years passed, with no jail time or fine, and the accused still possesses his driver's license. In an obscene coincidence, I saw a sign on a gasoline pump that said if you drive away without paying, you can and will lose your license as well as incur fines and possible jail sentence. Paradoxically, you drink and drive and kill a human being, and you can probably get away with it with little or no consequences. I tell my parishioners every year at New Year's Eve and on Holidays like Fourth of July or Labor Day, it is a MORTAL SIN to DWI (drive while intoxicated). My family suffered greatly and my mother ended up burying her third child and then her husband of 39 years thanks to a teenager who felt it necessary to get loaded and get behind the wheel. As a former hospital chaplain, I have seen paralyzed victims as well as dead victims of underage drinking and drunk driving. Road rage also played a part in my brother's death. Everyone acts as if where they have to go is more important that where the other drivers are going. No one has patience and no one remembers to be polite. Good manners are often missing in church parking lots. Daily communicants admit to cursing and flashing obscene gestures to fellow motorists. Parents show bad example to their kids when they drive aggressively let alone when they DUI (drive under the influence).
Thank God for what Pope Benedict said this past Sunday. Sadly, note that it did not make the major news agencies or networks and I doubt we'll see this in many national or diocesan newspapers.