Spanish-speaking parishioners promise not to drink and drive

November 25, 1996|By James Bock | James Bock,SUN STAFF

Kicking off a Baltimore-area campaign to reduce drunken driving, 127 Spanish-speaking Catholics pledged at Mass yesterday not to drink and drive nor to ride with someone who does.

Parishioners of the Roman Catholic Community of St. Michael and St. Patrick in Upper Fells Point signed a document called "La Promesa," or the promise. It is part of a national campaign to encourage socially responsible drinking by the Century Council, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit group financed by major wine, beer and liquor producers.

The campaign, making its debut in the mid-Atlantic region, is called in Spanish "Si Toma, No Maneje" -- "If You Drink, Don't Drive." Thousands of Latino Catholics in more than 850 parishes, mostly in California, Texas and Florida, have signed "La Promesa" and received anti-drunken driving literature and bumper stickers.

The Rev. Andrew Carr promoted the campaign from the pulpit yesterday at St. Michael's Church, Lombard and South Wolfe streets. The Archdiocese of Baltimore has urged other Spanish-speaking congregations to adopt the program.

Carr said he told the congregation in his homily that, "What we do to the least of our brothers and sisters, we do to Jesus. So it is a real favor to Jesus not to let people drink and drive."

The priest said in an interview that the alcoholic beverage industry's growing concern with drunken driving is positive, even if it is motivated by self-interest.

The bilingual campaign was developed in 1989 by the California Office of Traffic Safety because Latinos accounted for a disproportionate share of arrests for driving under the influence. The Century Council took over the program in 1991.

Pub Date: 11/25/96

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