Dallas Catholics Can Eat Meat on St. Patrick’s Day


Arched columns in a chapel | Image by Darryl Brooks/Shutterstock

Catholics in Dallas are free to consume meat on St. Patrick’s Day.

Bishop Edward J. Burns of the Diocese in Dallas announced a “dispensation from abstinence” on March 17, allowing Catholics to consume American-Irish traditional meals.

St. Patrick’s Day this year coincides with a Friday in the season of Lent.

Lent is a Catholic season of “prayer, fasting, and almsgiving” for 40 days. Practitioners must fast and abstain from eating meat on Fridays during this period.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and concludes with sunset on Holy Thursday. It is observed in preparation for the Easter celebration.

In Catholic tradition, days such as Good Friday, Ash Wednesday, and Fridays during Lent are considered “obligatory days of abstinence” on which Catholics are required to forgo eating meat.

While St. Patrick’s day is typically fixed to March 17, the Catholic Church can shift the day if needed. The day was moved in the 1940s for Palm Sunday and in 2008 for Holy Monday, according to Irish Central.

“Because the Memorial of St. Patrick is a common celebratory day in the United States and locally, I hereby decree that on Friday, March 17, 2023, all Catholics of the Diocese of Dallas, no matter where they may be, and all other Catholics actually present in the diocese on that day, are dispensed from the obligation to abstain from meat,” said Burns in his dispensation on March 3, according to Texas Catholic.

Catholics, however, are not required to use the dispensation and may continue to practice abstinence. Those who choose to use it are “strongly encouraged” to practice another form of penance in place of abstinence.

Several other Catholic dioceses have issued similar dispensations in recognition of St. Patrick’s Day.  About 70% — 125 of the 176 — of United States dioceses have announced that their members may eat meat on the day, according to the National Catholic Register.

“As an Irishman and as bishop, I am aware that many of the faithful celebrate this day,” said Bishop Francis Malone in his announcement of dispensation for the Diocese of Shreveport on March 8.

Some dioceses, however, have announced that they will not be granting a general dispensation and that eating meat on the day must include some form of substitute for penance.

The Archdiocese of Chicago announced that members may “substitute the general rule of abstinence with another form of penance or a significant act of charity that benefits the poor,” on March 7.

Lent will conclude this year on April 6, Holy Thursday. Easter will be observed in the Catholic Church on Sunday, April 9.

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