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English bishops reestablish meatless Fridays

May 16, 2011

Catholics in England and Wales will be obliged to abstain from meat every Friday beginning September 16--the anniversary of the first day of Pope Benedict’s 2010 trip to the United Kingdom.

“Every Friday is set aside by the Church as a special day of penance, for it is the day of the death of our Lord,” the bishops of England and Wales said in a May 13 statement. “The law of the Church requires Catholics to abstain from meat on Fridays, or some other form of food, or to observe some other form of penance laid down by the Bishops' Conference.”

“Respectful of this, and in accordance with the mind of the whole Church, the Bishops' Conference wishes to remind all Catholics in England and Wales of the obligation of Friday Penance,” the bishops continued. “The Bishops have decided to re-establish the practice that this should be fulfilled by abstaining from meat. Those who cannot or choose not to eat meat as part of their normal diet should abstain from some other food of which they regularly partake.”

“Many may wish to go beyond this simple act of common witness and mark each Friday with a time of prayer and further self-sacrifice. In all these ways we unite our sacrifices to the sacrifice of Christ, who gave up his very life for our salvation.”


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  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - May. 17, 2011 8:04 PM ET USA

    Judie Brown suggested years ago that we reinstate this penance voluntarily as a prayer for protection for the unborn. My wife and I have been doing it at least since then. I don't like fish very much, so it is a true penance.

  • Posted by: Defender - May. 16, 2011 11:45 PM ET USA

    I can well imagine the press if the USCCB made the suggestion or mandated it here..."First you have the Latin Mass, now you want meatless Fridays again, what's next: dressing up for Mass; no more Kumbaya; mandatory Mandatums; teachers teaching the Faith; etc?"

  • Posted by: filioque - May. 16, 2011 11:35 PM ET USA

    Wow. Now if the U.S. bishops would do this, and encourage Benediction and the Rosary, reinstate the prayers after Mass, start preaching about contraception and abortion, make sure every Catholic is familiar with the whole liturgy of the Roman Rite, replace hymns with singing the parts of the Mass, refuse to marry cohabiting couples, and fully acknowledge their errors in the sexual abuse scandal, I will believe that they are serious about renewing the Catholic Church in America.

  • Posted by: bkmajer3729 - May. 16, 2011 11:14 PM ET USA

    While there is good reason for the practice, following because of the rule causes one to wonder about the reality of the personal sacrifice. Grace still comes. Now, the opposite is also true if some other form of penance is allowed and left up to the individual to choose. Grace still comes. For both ones mind & heart need right intent. It seems, the sense of the sacrifice is lost if the intent is not practiced regardless of a specific penitential form. A difficult problem. Oh, just do it.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - May. 16, 2011 8:38 PM ET USA

    I am beside myself! If England can do this, can the US be next?