BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Roman Catholics looking to indulge in corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick's Day — which falls this year on a meatless Friday for the faithful — have been granted a reprieve in Fairfield County.
Bridgeport Bishop Frank J. Caggiano has joined other bishops across the country in granting a dispensation from the requirement to abstain from eating meat on Friday, March 17.
But Caggiano also encouraged Catholics to make a difference sacrifice instead.
In the decree he asks people who choose to eat meat on Saint Patrick’s Day “to abstain from meat on another day of Lent that is not a Friday, or observe another equally penitential practice.”
The Bishop also encourages the faithful “to observe general moderation in food and drink during the entire season of Lent.”
According to the Code of Canon Law and the directives of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, all Catholics ages 14 to 60 are required to abstain from meat on the Fridays of Lent. This rule can be dispensed in cases of certain medical conditions or very unusual situations.
While St. Patrick’s Day is a day of festivities, parades and celebrations, it occurs during a penitential season. “The season of Lent calls us to practice penance in various forms, to pray and to be particularly mindful of the needs of the poor,” Caggiano said.
St. Patrick’s Day falls on Friday about once every seven years, leading to the one-day lifting of the church rule. Many other bishops across the U.S. have also issued dispensations allowing for the traditional corned beef and cabbage celebration.