By CNA Staff
Washington D.C., Mar 16, 2023 / 16:00 pm
This year St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday.
For those who aren’t Catholic but are keen on observing the feast day with green beer and the traditional corned beef and cabbage, this is something of a happy coincidence and a great way to end the work week.
For Catholics it’s problematic. It’s Lent, a penitential time when Catholics are supposed to abstain from meat on Fridays.
As the luck of the Irish would have it, there is a way out of this dilemma. Diocesan bishops can give the faithful a dispensation to allow them to eat meat on March 17. The National Catholic Register’s Matt McDonald surveyed all of the bishops in the U.S. to find out which ones are offering a free pass on St. Patrick’s Day.
Here’s what he heard back:
“As of Thursday, March 16, 73.1% of the dioceses — 128 — were offering some relief from the no-meat-on-Fridays-during-Lent rule for St. Patrick’s Day.
“Of those saying some form of yes, 94 diocesan bishops are providing a dispensation with no strings attached — although many of those bishops suggest extra prayers or spiritual exercises or abstaining from meat on another day. Thirty-four diocesan bishops said some form of ‘yes, but …’ — requiring a substitute through what canon law calls a ‘commutation’ of the requirement, such as attending Mass on St. Patrick’s Day, saying the Breastplate of St. Patrick, praying the rosary, abstaining from meat another day, or helping the poor.
“Also in the yes-but category is the Archdiocese for the U.S. Military Services, which is requiring abstinence from meat on another day the same week as St. Patrick’s Day for those planning to eat meat on Friday, March 17.
“Forty-five diocesan bishops have said no to a general dispensation or commutation for all Catholics in the diocese, although many of those say they would grant individual dispensations upon request. That’s 25.7% of the dioceses.”
So, before heading out to celebrate, here’s a handy map showing which dioceses have given the green light (sorry) to eating meat on St. Patrick’s Day:
To learn about the history of the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day by Irish Catholics in the United States read this fascinating article by McDonald in the National Catholic Register.
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By CNA Staff