Alright, before this turns into another clustercuss of legalistic minutiae, let me throw out a few links.
Here is a recent thread on this exact topic.
Here is faithful Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin’s analysis of the current state of US law on Friday penance, in which he argues that Catholics in the United States are not bound under pain of sin to do penance on Fridays. Here he discusses the argument further.
Here is where the traditionalist blogger Fr. Z recently said the same thing.
And for good measure, here is a thing on EWTN from a priest who says the same thing.
These links should be sufficient to show that there is a legitimate debate among faithful Catholics over whether Catholics in the United States are bound under pain of sin to do penance on Fridays.
Now, to the specifics of this thread.
Roman Ordo says Abstinence on All Fridays
In the United States, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has declared that “the age of fasting is from the completion of the eighteenth year to the beginning of the sixtieth.” The USCCB also allows the substitution of some other form of penance for abstinence on all of the Fridays of the year, except for those Fridays in Lent. Thus, the rules for fasting and abstinence in the United States are:
Every person 14 years of age or older must abstain from meat (and items made with meat) on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all the Fridays of Lent.
Every person between the age of 18 and 60 must fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
Every person 14 years of age or older must abstain from meat (and items made with meat) on all other Fridays of the year, unless he or she substitutes some other form of penance for abstinence.
Abstaining from meat is the easiest form of penance for most people, as you can see the rules did not change, unless you do some form of sincere penance you ARE to abstain from meat.
Just a thought.
Fred conty, I’m not clear on what exact document you’re quoting. Is there a link to the original document?
The Bishops Conference can decide what penance may be done but they cannot dispense with the obligation.
Can. 1249 All Christ’s faithful are obliged by divine law, each in his or her own way, to do penance. However, so that all may be joined together in a certain common practice of penance, days of penance are prescribed. On these days the faithful are in a special manner to devote themselves to prayer, to engage in works of piety and charity, and to deny themselves, by fulfilling their obligations more faithfully and especially by observing the fast and abstinence which the following canons prescribe.
Can. 1250 The days and times of penance for the universal Church are each Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.
Can. 1251 Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
Can. 1252 The law of abstinence binds those who have completed their fourteenth year. The law of fasting binds those who have attained their majority, until the beginning of their sixtieth year. Pastors of souls and parents are to ensure that even those who by reason of their age are not bound by the law of fasting and abstinence, are taught the true meaning of penance.
Can. 1253 The Episcopal Conference can determine more particular ways in which fasting and abstinence are to be observed. In place of abstinence or fasting it can substitute, in whole or in part, other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety.
As far as I can tell, you are mistaken here. As is clear from context, when Can. 1249 talks about our obligation to do penance under the divine law, it is talking about how everyone must do penance at some time in some form because we are all sinners; it is not talking specifically about the discipline of Friday penance. That is why it says “each in his or her own way,” and then goes on to say “However, so that all may be joined together in a certain common practice of penance, days of penance are prescribed.”
Second, the Code of Canon Law of 1983 does give bishops conferences the authority to dispense with the obligation, under pain of sin, to do penance on every Friday of the year. That comes in Can. 1253, which gives bishops conferences two separate powers: the power to substitute other forms of penance for abstinence, and also the power to " determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence." If the latter power were simply the same as the former power, then they would simply have stated a single power and not two. As Jimmy Akin says, the power to “determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence” allows a bishops conference to, for example, limit the binding law of penance only to Ash Wednesdays and Fridays in Lent.
Whether the USCCB has, in fact, done that is the question at hand.