US Bishops lift meatless Friday rule for St Pat's

Irish-loving Catholics face a St Patrick's Day dilemma this Friday. Do they follow the holiday's tradition of eating corned beef or honour the church's tradition of meatless Fridays during Lent?

Fortunately, cardinals and bishops are solving the problem in some parts of the US.

Religion News Service reports that dozens of Catholic dioceses have announced that they will grant indults - exceptions to the Catholic Church's common law - to allow their members to eat meat on St Patrick's Day.

"For those Catholics desiring some pastoral guidance regarding whether it is permitted to eat meat on St Patrick's Day ... Cardinal (Adam) Maida grants his blessing and permission," says a message sent to the Archdiocese of Detroit's more than 300 parishes.

In exchange for eating corned beef, Maida suggests Catholics perform personal acts of penance, such as "prayer, fasting and almsgiving."

The Archdioceses of New York and heavily Irish Boston have also decided to suspend the rule, as has the Diocese of Brooklyn.

"I appreciate the bishop for not putting the Irish in a place of internal conflict whether to obey the church or our heritage," said Neil Huiskens, a deacon at St John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Davison, Michigan, and grand marshal of the 25th annual St Patrick's Day Festival in Flint, Mich.

Under Catholic rules for Lent - the 40-day period before Easter - Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fasting and abstinence, and every Friday is to be meatless.

Corned beef began as a traditional Easter Sunday meal in rural Ireland. The beef was preserved through the winter in a brine solution of salt and sugar so that it could be eaten after the Lenten fast.

Bishops Lift Meatless Friday Rule for St. Pat's Day (Beliefnet/Religion News Service)

The Indult Watch Spreads (Whispers in the Loggia 14/3/06)
Round Four (Whispers in the Loggia 4/3/06)
Saints alive corned beef Friday is OK (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 13/3/06)
Dioceses issue 'Corned Beef Indult' for St. Patrick's Day (National Catholic Reporter 17/3/06)
St. Patrick brings up thoughts of irish mysteries such as 'island of purgatory' (Spirit Daily)

15 Mar 2006