With St. Patrick’s Day falling on a Friday, Illinois Catholics have likely been wondering whether they’ll be able to indulge in corned beef and other delicacies in celebration of the holiday.
The answer depends mostly on where one lives, as bishops across the state have shown themselves to be divided on the issue.
Illinois is broken down into six dioceses, including Chicago, Rockford, Peoria, Joliet, Springfield and Belleville.
According to a press release, the Archdiocese of Chicago, which represents Catholics in Lake and Cook Counties, will not granting a general dispensation for the Memorial of St. Patrick, meaning that Catholics are still supposed to abstain from meat on the holiday in keeping with the Lenten tradition.
However, there is an alternative that area Catholics can avail themselves of. According to the Archdiocese, Catholics who find themselves at an event where meat is being served can “in good conscience substitute the general rule of abstinence with another form of penance or a significant act of charity that benefits the poor.”
“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,” the Archdiocese said in a statement.
Cardinal Blase Cupich had given a general dispensation for St. Patrick’s Day in 2017, according to the Chicago Catholic, but asked that those choosing to eat meat instead “substitute another form of penance.”
Rockford Bishop David Malloy, whose diocese covers residents in McHenry, DeKalb and Kane counties, granted dispensation to eat meat on St. Patrick’s Day, asking adherents to “perform some other act of penance or charity on that day in honor and respect to the Paschal Mystery of our Lord and Savior.”
Catholics in the Joliet diocese, which includes Kendall, Grundy, DuPage, Will and Kankakee counties, will also be granted a dispensation for St. Patrick’s Day.
A dispensation has been granted by Bishop Louis Tylka on behalf of the Peoria diocese, which includes LaSalle County. He does ask adherents to “undertake a work of charity, an exercise of piety, or an act of comparable penance on some other occasion during the third week of Lent.”
In Springfield, Catholics are not being offered that dispensation, but pastors can grant them “on an individual basis for a just cause,” according to the State Journal-Register.
Bishop Michael McGovern has granted a dispensation for the holiday in Belleville, representing most of southern Illinois.
According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholics 14 years of age and older are required to abstain from eating meat on Fridays during Lent.