When St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday during Lent, we’re faced with dining on mash without the bangers.
Trust Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley to step in for the Irish.
O’Malley granted a dispensation for Catholics to dig into the corned beef today, saying in a Feb. 28 statement: “This year, the Feast of St. Patrick, the patron saint of our Archdiocese, falls on a Friday during Lent. Given the importance of this feast in the life of the Archdiocese and in the lives of so many of our families, I am granting a dispensation from the Friday Lenten abstinence on March 17, 2017, to those who wish to take advantage of this opportunity.”
The Boston Pilot noted that O’Malley similarly stepped in when St. Paddy’s last fell on a Lenten Friday in 2006, but refused to grant a dispensation for ballpark hot dogs when the Red Sox home opener fell on a Lenten Friday in 2004.
O’Malley suggested Catholics do something to make up for meat-eating today, such as praying the rosary, attending the Stations of the Cross, giving “the gift of your time in a charitable way” or spending time “in devout prayer.”
Lent began on March 1. In the United States, Catholics 14 years of age and older are required to abstain from meat — fish allowed, hence the famous neighborhood church fish fry and the run to McDonald’s for Filet O’Fish — on Fridays during Lent, and Catholics 18 to 59 years of age also fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
MassLive reported that other bishops throughout the state — the most Irish in the country, comprising more than 21 percent of the population — have followed suit, as every diocese lifted the no-meat decree.
Fall River Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha said Catholics imbibing on corned beef should “carry out some some other sacrificial act or work of charity in keeping with the spirit of the Lenten season.”
New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan and Diocese of Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio similarly gave parishioners permission to dig into the shepherd’s pie and rashers.
However, the Archdiocese of Denver said Catholics should still lay off the meat today as “the Church encourages the faithful to celebrate the life of Ireland’s great saint by engaging in acts of charity, for which St. Patrick was so well known.”
Here’s a list, from Anchorage to D.C., of which dioceses have granted dispensations to allow meat today.
But Crux editor Charles Collins argued it’s time to do away with the “silly” scorecard and “hodgepodge of contradictory rules.”
“Some will object that the day has become another secular feast, based on excessive drinking and partying, which is true. But the Catholic overtones are still there: The bishop blesses the St. Patrick’s Day parade in cities all over the country, and the morning Mass is usually a bit fuller than usual,” Collins wrote. “Guinness hats and ‘Kiss Me, I’m Irish’ pins might not have religious significance, but really, neither does Santa Claus nor the Easter Bunny.”
He noted in Australia, where the Sydney archdiocese notes “St Patrick’s Day is marked by festivals, parades and a goodly pint or two,” they have “managed to embrace the feast, without forgetting it is a feast of the Church.”
“Perhaps the Church in the United States could do the same, and let the people enjoy some corn beef hash without having to check with their bishop first,” Collins added.