2/20/2007Italy: Last Rites an Excuse for Speeding
A priest may speed to administer last rites to a dying man in Italy without being punished by a photo enforcement ticket.
A priest rushing to the scene of an automobile accident in Italy was acquitted of speeding last week. On November 13, a speed camera had photographed the Volkswagen Polo belonging to Father Stanislaw Wardega, a hospital chaplain, driving 106km/h (66 MPH) in a 50km/h (30 MPH) zone in the central Italian town of Foligno.
After receiving the ticket in the mail, Father Wardega argued in court that his speed was what allowed him to make it to the accident scene in time to administer the last rites. Foligno Justice of the Peace Luciano Cicioni agreed and absolved Father Wardega of any crime.
"The state of necessity is instituted to exclude responsibility when something illicit is done in order to save oneself or another from danger," wrote Cicioni. "The last rites are for the Catholic Christian the visible sign instituted by Christ that conduct a soul to salvation. Therefore, a person at the point of death who cannot receive them risks -- for those with faith -- suffering serious and irreparable damage."