Can Catholics observing Lent eat meat on St. Patrick’s Day? Some dioceses grant dispensations
St. Patrick’s Day this year coincides with Lenten Friday, when Catholics traditionally abstain from meat. But after several dioceses across the United States granted dispensations, some Catholics will be able to indulge.
The Lenten loophole has been granted in a number of cities, including Boston, Washington, D.C., and in both of the dioceses covering New York City.
“This year, the Feast of St. Patrick, the patron saint of our Archdiocese, falls on a Friday during Lent. Given the importance of this feast in the life of the Archdiocese and in the lives of many Catholics, Cardinal Seán is granting a dispensation from the Friday Lenten abstinence on March 17, 2023, to those who wish to take advantage of this opportunity,” the Archdiocese of Boston wrote in a statement. “This is a one day only dispensation.”
The dispensation will allow Catholics to eat classic St. Patrick’s Day meals like corned beef and cabbage and shepherd’s pie.
Catholic leaders in Houston, Milwaukee, Phoenix, Cleveland and Minneapolis issued similar dispensations. Dioceses stressed that Catholics who plan to eat meat should visit churches, engage in pious acts and perform other acts of penance to compensate for eating meat on Friday. In Washington, D.C., the archdiocese suggested that Catholics who eat meat on St. Patrick’s Day should abstain from eating meat on a different day during Lent.
Catholics in Chicago did not receive a general dispensation.
“Instead, Catholics who find themselves at an event where meat is served in celebrating St. Patrick may in good conscience substitute the general rule of abstinence with another form of penance or a significant act of charity that benefits the poor,” the Archdiocese of Chicago wrote in a statement. “Regardless, it is important to take seriously the obligation to observe Fridays in Lent as a way of uniting ourselves to Jesus who died on Good Friday. That should not be undervalued as we reflect on his sacrifice on the Cross for the salvation of the world in this holy season.”
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