Some Catholic bishops in the U.S. have granted Catholic parishioners to eat meat on Fridays during Lent because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
What are the details?
According to a Friday CNN report, Catholic bishops in at least two states — Massachusetts and New Jersey — are permitting the controversial move.
New Jersey’s Most Rev. James F. Checchio, Bishop of Metuchen, made the announcement Thursday.
He wrote, “Given the difficulties of obtaining some types of food and the many other sacrifices which we are suddenly experiencing given the coronavirus, I have granted a dispensation from abstaining from meat on Fridays for the rest of Lent, except Good Friday, which is universal law.”
Boston’s Most Rev. Peter J. Uglietto issued a similar message through the Archdiocese of Boston that same day.
Uglietto wrote, “One of the effects of the current events is uncertainty regarding which food products are available on any given day. At this time, we are called to make the best of what we have at hand or is available for purchase. Many people are using what they have stored in their freezers and on their shelves. Others are depending on pre-packaged meals or food delivered through support agencies, which are providing an important service for individuals and families in our communities, especially for children and our senior citizens.”
He added, “In light of these circumstances, Cardinal Sean [O’Malley] is dispensing all Catholics in the Archdiocese from the obligation of abstaining from meat during the remaining Fridays of Lent.
“The Cardinal encourages those who can partake of this traditional Lenten practice of abstention to do so and to offer it up for those who are suffering in any way from the pandemic we are experiencing,” he added.
Last week, Brooklyn’s Most Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio said borough Catholics also did not have to abstain from meat this Lenten season.
“This is being done to assist people who may have difficulties in shopping for food or other reasons, which would make this practice difficult at this time,” he said in a statement from the Diocese of Brooklyn.
At the time of this writing, the U.S. has seen at least 97,226 COVID-19 cases, and at least 1,475 people have died because of the virus.