Meatless Fridays start today in England and Wales

Starting today, meatless Fridays are ‘back in’ as Catholic practice in England and Wales.

Since 1985 it has been possible for Catholics in England and Wales to substitute some other form of penance instead of giving up meat, however the English and Welsh Bishops’ decided to restore meatless Fridays because they believe Catholics forget their obligation to do Friday penance.

The bishops’ say abstaining from meat is easy to remember and simple to witness to, for example at work, school and even in the home.

“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,” the bishops’ said in a statement.

Keen to remind Catholics of their obligation, “the Bishops have decided to re-establish the practice that this should be fulfilled by abstaining from meat.”

Vegans and Vegetarians are also obliged to do penance, and are required to abstain from some other form of food.

Quoting Canon Law, the Bishops Q&A says the obligation to do penance on Fridays binds those who are aged between 14- 60.

The obligation to do penance, Meatless Fridays, should not place a real or substantial burden on the lives of Catholics the bishops’ say.

“Those under fourteen years of age, the sick, the elderly and frail, pregnant women, seafarers, manual workers according to need, guests at a meal who cannot excuse themselves without giving great offense to their hosts or causing friction, and those in other situations of moral or physical impossibility are not required to observe abstention from meat; in other words, we should act prudently,” the bishops’ explain in their Q&A.

September 16 coincides with the first anniversary of Pope Benedict’s trip to the United Kingdom.



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