Polish churches to name and shame drunk drivers

In a new twist in a campaign against alcohol abuse, parishes in a Polish diocese may be asked to read out the names of convicted drunk drivers following church notices at the end of Sunday Mass.

Prosecutors in overwhelmingly Catholic Poland have asked priests to read out the names of drink-drivers from the pulpit as part of efforts to reduce the country's high road death rate, Reuters reports.

More than 98,000 have died on Polish roads since 1991, making Poles 2.5 times more likely to die in road accidents than Swedes or UK citizens, European Union figures show.

"We post the names of convicted drunk drivers at town halls," Rafal Grabia told Reuters, a prosecutor in the mountain town of Zywiec in southern Poland. "But who reads that? The information is not reaching family, friends and neighbours."

Another prosecutor, Malgorzata Bednarek, told Catholic News Service that "the Justice Ministry has instructed us to publicise cases of drunken driving and publicly censure those involved - the Catholic Church would be well suited for this".

"But we'll only make arrangements with local parish priests if church leaders agree," she added. "For now, we're studying the legal possibility of making a formal request to diocesan bishops."

However, the proposal was criticised by Fr Piotr Brzakalik, the sobriety chaplain for the Katowice Archdiocese. Fr Brzakalik recently launched a nationwide poster campaign against drink driving with support from police and advertising firms nationwide.

"To risk killing someone is a violation of the Fifth Commandment," Fr Brzakalik told journalists. "But I'm sceptical about this idea - the pulpit shouldn't be used for stigmatising people."


Priests asked to shame drunk drivers (Reuters, 5/9/06)

Polish officials call for drunken drivers' names to be read at church (Catholic News Service, 28/8/06)

6 Sep 2006