Every seven years or so, St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday, leaving Catholics wondering whether they should stick to the Lenten rule of not eating meat on Fridays or indulge in the tradition of chowing down on corned beef and cabbage on the Irish holiday.
This year, there’s good news for parishioners of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Belleville: You can have your corned beef — and eat it, too.
Bishop Edward Braxton issued a dispensation — an exemption from a usual rule — on Feb. 10 to all of the diocese’s more than 100 parishes that reach from the metro-east across to the Indiana border and down to Cairo.
But Braxton said he did not issue the dispensation lightly, saying if you don’t have to eat meat, don’t.
Braxton has issued the dispensation in the past, mostly in an effort to ensure parishes holding St. Patrick’s Day fundraiser dinners don’t miss out on crowds who would normally attend. This year, several parishes requested the dispensation. Partner parishes St. Luke and St. Teresa in Belleville, for instance, will hold a St. Patrick’s Day Dinner from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. March 17 at St. Luke’s Parish Hall, complete with corned beef, ham and roasted potatoes.
Bishops nationwide began issuing similar dispensations even before Lent began, according to Catholic News, though some bishops suggested Catholics do an extra act of charity or penance in exchange for eating meat.
Bishop Robert Morlino, of Madison, Wis., urged Catholics to “exercise due moderation” and to keep with “the solemnity and honor that is due to so great a saint” during St. Patrick’s Day festivities, Catholic News reports, though Morlino also said dedications to the saint should be joyful.
George Lucas, an archbishop in Omaha, Neb., also issued a dispensation, but said parishioners indulging in meat on March 17 must abstain the next day, according to Catholic News.