It is hard to imagine that the Roman Catholic Church would be speaking out against a government attempt to cut down on impaired driving, isn’t it? But alas we should never be surprised by the church (including all of us here – Anglicans too sometimes) and its ability to participate in the most ridiculous of situations.
This story comes from Northern Ireland of all places. On November 2 the BBC ran a story with the headline, EUCHARIST COULD MEAN ‘WATER INTO FINE.’ Apparently, Sinn Fein has been calling for zero tolerance on what they call ‘drink-driving.’ This has already happened in many places in Eastern Europe. I understand from my extensive half an hour of research that ‘drink-driving’ is a big problem Northern Ireland and that this is an honest effort to stop people from the dangerous practice of finishing up a pint or two at the local ‘public house’ and driving several miles down the road to the next pub and so on and so on…! To most of us that sounds like a good idea (I mean the not drinking and driving part, not the going pub hopping with a car part!).
Enter the Church – Stage LEFT. A very well known Irish priest, Father Brian D’Arcy weighed in; "We want a law that allows people to drive and not drive people off the road. We want a law that’s applicable and reasonable, not risible. Nobody in their right mind would want that." Why would the church be opposed? Good question! It appears that these fretting Fathers are drinking a LOT of communion wine on Sundays. The church, says Father D’Arcy has not as many priest and the ones they have left are forced to say several masses on a Sunday, in some cases with considerable distance in between celebrations. When I first read this article I thought to myself, “These GUYS have taken the word ‘celebrate’ far too seriously when it comes to the Eucharist. It appears as though the whole thing is wrapped up in the practice of having priest consume the sacred wine instead of allowing any of the parishioners consume. Simple solution – share and share alike!
Now I must say that Father D’Arcy may be a teetotaller, but he really should be a little more understanding of the needs of a community to be safe. Referring to legislation that is designed to protect human life as “risible” is really unfair and ironic coming from a priest who is charged to have respect for all human life. According to RTE (Republic of Ireland’s News Network) the problem there is rampant. I am sure that it is not much different in Northern Ireland. How bad is it? “An average of 250 drivers are arrested each week for driving while under the influence of an intoxicant in the Republic of Ireland.” Over one-third of all fatal crashes in Ireland involve “drink-driving.” I would have to say that the last work that comes to mind is “risible.” The families of those who have lost a loved one would be deeply wounded at referring to legislation to curb that problem as “laughable.” Bobby Bradley whose 20 year old son Robert was run over by a drunk driver in 2000 would not find this subject risible at all. In a 2003 BBC article DRINK-DRIVING DEATHS RISE, he was quoted saying that, “We feel there should be zero tolerance for drink-driving. We would not want any other family to go through what we have" When I was a teenager I lost two friends to drunk driving. Those families would also find very little in this subject that should be described as laughable or for that matter would see this debate as something that would give rise to amusement.
Well, I really don’t know all the answers. It seems to me that any move to protect the public should be something the church celebrates, even if it is inconvenient. I could be wrong, it happened once just yesterday – Maybe the lack of vocations has lead to the need to allow these fearful Fathers to consume handfuls of holy hootch and drive to the next appointment. According to Father D’Arcy even a small reduction in the legal limit would put them over the top. So in many jurisdictions on the planet where the limit is 50 mgs and not 80 mgs like NI, or where zero tolerance is already in effect, there is already a pious predicament that leaves the church bound up between Scylla and Charybdis. What should this hallowed institution do? Well they could do what priests in Crotia are doing – They are seeking $12 Million in comonesation for personal drivers. (Click here to read more) OR It seems to me that it might be time to address the lack of vocations – or am I just not "celebrating" enough? If you asked me this is all risible!