Rules regarding Fridays for Catholics

I would argue that the diocese is the local Church, and what the Ordinary says is what the people must follow. The USCCB, likewise, adapts the doctrines and practices to the local Churches.

The USCCB has loosed the requirement for meat abstinence outside of Lent. That’s all they had the competence to do. They have no authority to loose the requirement for penance, since it is Divine Law.

True, but Divine Law does not specify Friday. The Church in the past has said that we will all do penance on the same day. However, Canons 1249 to 1253 are talking about abstinence as the penitential act. I’m confused, slightly. The USCCB says that is no longer true we have to abstain under penalty of sin. It is now voluntary to do penance on Friday.

The Ordinary has no standing or competence to adjust the days of penance. Nobody but the Holy Father does, because this prerogative has not been delegated by the universal law. It is still reserved to the Holy See, who has said in those canons that penance is to be done on Fridays and Lent.

The episcopal conference only has power that is delegated by the universal law. I have cited the law which says exactly which power is delegated to the episcopal conference. That does not include adapting the time of penance, only the type.

So it would be a mortal sin to eat meat on Friday and not do any penance to replace the lack of abstinence? Even if the local bishops say it is OK?

Why would you care either way?

Because I would not want to commit a mortal sin, which is a great offense against God. IMHO, in life it is important to avoid sin and to do good.

What an interesting response. I have no idea what you mean by that.

I have been contemplating this for the past day, and I have come to the conclusion that the American Bishops did us no favor by releasing On Penance and Abstinence. As I said downthread, I do observe abstinence on Fridays. And, I think my understanding was correct that abstinence is not required but a penitential act is required.

The confusion is that, taken on it’s own, the Bishops’ instruction seems to make voluntary the Friday penance as well.

I have reached that exact same conclusion with an emphasis of “taken on it’s own.”

I have distinct memories as far back as the 50’s of the local Ordinary waiving the abstinence requirement when St. Patrick’s Day fell on a Lenten Friday.

The Ordinary has authority to grant dispensations from ecclesial rules such as fasting and abstinence. This is functionally the same as the episcopal conference changing the rules for Friday abstinence.

Furthermore, it’s a real gray area here: St. Patrick’s Day is a solemnity in many places, and on solemnities, the feasting character of the day always trumps the penitential character of Lent or Friday, so it is very much in the spirit of the law and the liturgy that the Ordinary grants dispensations on days like this.

Remember that if the Annunciation or some other solemnity falls on a Friday, we are always released from abstinence and even penance on those days.

It is also interesting to note that the many St. Joseph celebrations, originating in Italy, are traditionally meatless. This is because St. Joseph’s feast day, March 19, always falls during Lent, and the tradition was to observe abstinence, I guess even if a solemnity fell in that time. Or whatever type of feast classification it was under the old calendar.

I understand the OP had asked the question with regards to the USA, however, I think many people everywhere still get confused about the difference between fasting and abstinence.

In the UK, Catholics are required to treat each Friday of the year as a day of abstinence (meat free/or if vegetarian an alternative) with Ash Wednesday and Good Friday etc. as days of fasting and abstinence (meat free and reduced consumption of food) and other days (e.g. In aid of CAFOD) as days of just fasting (meat permitted but reduced consumption of food).

An extra prayer I have found useful to use on a Friday is the prayer to Christ crucified.

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