BANGKOK, Thailand, OCT. 18, 2010 (Zenit.org).- One goal of a meeting on the pastoral care of the road is to address the problem of highway accidents, which claim 3,000 lives daily.
This first integrated meeting on the Pastoral Care of the Road/Street for the continents of Asia and Oceania
begins on Tuesday in Bangkok.
This meeting, which lasts through Saturday, is being organized by the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers as the third in a series on this topic.
The first meeting of its kind took place in 2008 in Bogota, Colombia, to consider pastoral care in Latin America. The second, which was held in Rome last year, focused on Europe. Next year, a fourth meeting will be held to study the specific needs of Africa and Madagascar.
This meeting in Bangkok, which is gathering 55 participants from 18 countries, was organized in collaboration with the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences.
A press release from the pontifical council noted that the problem of deaths and injuries due to road accidents is “a global phenomenon of great concern.”
It reported that road traffic crashes kill 3,000 people and 500 children daily, or 1.3 million annually. Some 90% of these casualties occur in low and middle income countries.
The council noted that in the region covered by the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific in particular, there are some 700,000 road users killed yearly. It noted that by 2020, it is estimated that two thirds of the world’s road fatalities will occur in that region.
Thus, some objectives of the meeting in Bangkok are to “promote understanding and education amongst all motorists regarding road ethics, safe driving and human/Christian charity on the road/street” and to encourage pastoral care for truck drivers or others who work long hours on the road.
The council noted that the apostolate to those who work on the road or live on the street “covers a wide spectrum of those whose lives are forced in one way or other out of the borders of a normal home life and ordinary parochial care.”
The meeting participants will consider topics such as “the pastoral care of road and rail-users, promotion of worthy and Christian road ethics, street women and street children as well as the homeless.”
They will seek to enhance their ministry programs and aid efforts by discussing new strategies of collaboration with other organizations, with the aim of safeguarding the dignity of the human person and to ensuring their well-being.
The council noted that the meeting in Bangkok will also address the problems of prostitution and human trafficking, which has “hit unprecedented levels, to the extent that it can be considered as a new form of slavery.”