About a week ago, Vatican bureaucrats issued the “Ten commandments of the road”. Well, duh.

One blog I read wondered what the “average” Catholic thought of them, and I commented: we don’t think of them at all. The dirty little secret is that the Vatican bureaucracy is full of people who rverify the truth of the Peter’s principal:
In every hierarchy, whether it be government or business, each employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence; every post tends to be filled by an employee incompetent to execute its duties.Robert Miller in FirstThings is even more cynical about the paper, perhaps because unlike myself, he actually had to read it. His impression:

Now no one denies that, while driving, we ought to be safe and courteous, try to avoid accidents, and generally observe the traffic laws. In fact, that is precisely my point—everyone knows we ought do these things. No one has a brief for unsafe roads or drunk driving or road rage. In an era of the most profound and heated moral disagreements over truly life-and-death issues, safe driving is one of the extremely few things that everyone agrees on. Hence, a lengthy disquisition on the subject backed up with pompous theological bloviations is utterly bizarre.

What we have here, in fact, is a bureaucracy wildly out of control. It’s as if some ecclesiastical Dr. Frankenstein patched together a high school drivers-ed manual and the Compendium of Catholic Social Thought to produce some raving intellectual monstrosity let loose on the world to announce most solemnly the most absurd banalities decorated with irrelevant quotations from Scripture and the Second Vatican Council.

Poor man. He hasn’t figured it out yet. The trick is to take an EvelynWood’s Speed reading course, skim the papers at 3000 words per minute, put check marks next to paragraphs that you think are good (or in this case inane), and summarize it in three words:
Drive carefully, stupid. when catholics drive too fast
(Illustration at right: When Catholics drive too fast)

Having worked in the Federal and state systems as a doctor, I am aware of such things. We always were sent loads of stuff to read that were carefully filed in the round “file cabinet” beneath my desk.

When there was actually something we needed to know, one of us would plow thru it and summarize it for the rest. For example, when there was the smallpox scare, since I have third world experience I was the one plowing through the intricate plans on what to do, which had everything thought out in detail down to the number of bathrooms needed.

Now, one does need some of these things: one of the tradgedies of Hurricane Katrina is that the public hospitals didn’t bother to figure out that you need to evacuate before the hurricane, and that if your hospital is twenty feet below sea level, you don’t put your generators in the basement.

But a lot of the regulations are merely filed so that when bureaucrats inspect your clinic or hospital, you can show them that you have the information..

So who writes these things? In medicine, the joke was they were written by Pediatricians who got tired of midnight phone calls from mothers about things like headlice or teething…so they went into administration.

People at the head offices have to justify their salaries, so they make regulations and reports that no one reads. In one meeting room, an entire wall was filled with such reports and regulations: and they only were the regulations for the past five years. And that was just the federal registry, not including all the medical regulations.
Hopefully, instead of killing trees, we will now fill the walls with CD’s of PDF files, so that in the remote case we need to find something, our fingers can do the walking using Google Desktop instead of spending hours trying to figure out where it is.

As for the Vatican, they now can congratulate themselves that their pronouncements received attention, and that Catholics now will drive more safely because Cardinal Martino said they should.

And if you believe that, you’re obviously a Baptist.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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