Rorate Caeli

Restoration of mandatory meatless Fridays in England and Wales

Since 1985, in England and Wales abstinence from meat has been mandatory only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday; on all other Fridays of the year, including Lenten Fridays, the faithful are allowed to choose between abstaining from meat or doing some other penance -- see this document. The bishops there have now chosen to restore the requirement of meatless Fridays.

Catholic Witness - Friday Penance

Every Friday is set aside by the Church as a special day of penance, for it is the day of the death of our Lord. The law of the Church requires Catholics to abstain from meat on Fridays, or some other form of food, or to observe some other form of penance laid down by the Bishops’ Conference.

The Bishops wish to re-establish the practice of Friday penance in the lives of the faithful as a clear and distinctive mark of their own Catholic identity. They recognise that the best habits are those which are acquired as part of a common resolve and common witness. It is important that all the faithful be united in a common celebration of Friday penance.

Respectful of this, and in accordance with the mind of the whole Church, the Bishops’ Conference wishes to remind all Catholics in England and Wales of the obligation of Friday Penance. The Bishops have decided to re-establish the practice that this should be fulfilled by abstaining from meat.

Those who cannot or choose not to eat meat as part of their normal diet should abstain from some other food of which they regularly partake. This is to come into effect from Friday 16 September 2011 when we will mark the anniversary of the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United Kingdom.



  1. Anonymous4:41 AM

    The United States should follow. It is almost disappearing not only practice but from memory of the younger feneration. I mentioned it once to a youger Catholic and He responded " What are you talking about?" The US should take this up at their next meeting. It was sooooooooo part of our Catholic identity. We need to reclaim small parts of our Traditions. This would seem one of the easier ones. Telling others about what is going to happen in England and Wales others have said "About Time"..There is a shift going on here.

  2. Good, good: we are Papist Fisheaters.

  3. Johannes4:58 AM

    This is excellent and surprising. A move addressed to conduct to make the laity holier is better news than a fresh vague document on the liturgy to carp over. Bishops at last using their apostolic authority for the good of the Church rather than turning it to her harm or, alternatively, standing still waiting for the bishop of Rome to do it all and anything.

  4. Bring all TRADITIONS and traditions back!!!!!!!

  5. Did the aliens finally infiltrate EngBishcorp?

    And who knew they were on our side?

    Huh. Weird.

  6. \\Bring all TRADITIONS and traditions back!!!!!!!\\

    According to the book GARDEN OF THE SOUL by Bp. Challoner (of the Challoner revision of the D/R Bible), ALL Weekdays in Lent were days of fast AND abstinence, and even Lenten Sundays were days of abstinence.

    Furthermore, there were many more days of obligation and fasted vigils.

    Ar these among "all the traditions" you want to see restored, Edward?

  7. Anonymous11:00 AM

    Would it be possible (and advisable) to start a petition--much like the one circulated in connection with the recent document on S.P.--asking the bishops of the U.S. to reinstate meatless Fridays?

    Personally, I think this is an opportune moment as events (and the attitude of many of the young, as I can attest from personal experience) seem to be accelerating towards a return to Catholic tradition. (And yes, "Jack," speaking for myself I would love to see fasting and abstinence restored to the Lenten ferias and the great Vigils, e.g. Christmas Eve.)

    --Fr. Capreolus

  8. Anonymous11:36 AM

    Bring back all Catholic traditions, especially the Tridentine Latin Mass, nuns in full habits, and end to ecumenism, and bring back meatless Fridays in the USA all year.

    I have a womderful memory of my parents taking my sister and I down to the New Jersey seashore each year as part of our summer vacation. We left the suburbs of Philadelphia every July or August, for anywhere from 2 weeks to 1 month at a New Jersey Shore point, usually the wonderful resort town of Ocean City.
    There was a seafood take out restaurant near our house (two blocks from the beach), called Campbells.
    In my childhood, on Fridays, I remember my Mom placing our meatless Friday order. Usually crabcakes, deviled crabs, deviled clams, musscles, scallops, or sometimes even lobster.
    Campbell's always did a great business in Ocean City during the summer, but never so well as on a Friday, when dozens of Catholic customers lined up in their cars to pick up their drive-thru orders.
    All that wonderful Catholic tradition and disipline is gone now, replaced by a "Mass", and a modern system of belief which makes us more like the Lutherans or Presbyterians....than Catholics.
    The best thing the USA bishops could do for USA Catholics (besides having a free and open expansion of the traditional Latin Mass), is to restore all the distinctly Catholic traditions they took away in the late 1960's and early 1970's (fish on Friday mandated, purple veils over statues in Church during Advent and Lent, etc.)
    The Catholic Church would rebound from this 45 years of collapse much faster than most would think!

  9. To whom could we write to express our thanks to the Bishops' Conference?

    I think thanking them is a better way to accomplish our goals than to go around asking for petitions for such a thing to be laid down in the U.S. as well. Not really good to set a precedent by getting the bishops to change practices based off 20 years, people may overwhelmingly petition for female priests. Just not good precedent

  10. Jack O'Malley3:40 PM

    I think it would be futile to petition the USCCB to restore anything traditional.

    What is needed is a new motu proprio or even an apostolic constitution Ichthyophagorum coetibus to accommodate the desires of the faithful. A later instruction can deal with methods of preparation, restrictions of the use of lemon, and the prohibition of tartar sauce in all its forms.

    The larger question is of course, should there even be a USCCB?

  11. I am profundly shocked, surprised and happy about this. I thought at first I had entered the Twilight Zone after reading this, but....goodness. Were all the Bishops drugged or something?

    To restore the Friday penance is a great thing (though I'm not sure substituting lobster for a steak would qualify as a "penance" our house, where we have never abandoned the Friday penance, we're stuck with pretty paltry meals - except when my lovely wife brings out the cod!!) May it prosper worldwide.

    For once, kudos to the Bishops of England and Wales.

  12. Anonymous5:33 PM

    I, too, was surprised when I heard this news, as one would not have anticipated the Bishops of England and Wales decided to restore this tradition.

    I wonder to what degree we might detect the influence of Eamon Duffy here. Cf. the following article which he published in The Tablet some years ago, and which is a version of an argument he has made on several other occasions:

    I have no evidence whatever for my suspicion on this subject - it is pure speculation. But Prof. Duffy is the sort of person to whom the bishops might have paid attention, and the Tablet is a publication which they likely read. Prof. Duffy is, as far as I know, hardly a traditionalist, and his argument here casts the argument for Friday abstinence in a rather more progressive light - but these are also reasons that he might have been more persuasive to the bishops.

  13. Anonymous6:49 PM

    I don't think that, if they did bring no meat on Fridays back in the USA, many would pay any attention to it. What are they going to threaten them with if they don't want to observe it? They threatened us with spending an eternity in Hell, but that doesn't fly anymore with most Catholics. Hell? Why, no one goes THERE anymore...


  14. Anonymous7:34 PM

    "Good, good: we are Papist Fisheaters."

    Given the high toxicity of fish in this 21st Century, it would be better to be a Papist Lentileater. Or, perhaps, Quinoaeater.

    The days of Bp Challoner are gone. If you want to eat like a Traditional Catholic, you will have to give up McDonald's and everything related to the US Grocery Industry. Can you imagine St. Isidore stopping by the Kroger's on the way back to the farm. It is ridiculous. Inside or out of Lent, the Catholic diet is dead.

    The diabolical disorientation has not spared the US Grocery Industry. If you want to bring back the Catholic traditions relating to food...bring back the food first.

  15. First, Bishop Conferences cannot mandate church law only enforce current canon, most people only think they can, including the bishops. So we can burn for eating meat on Fridays in one part of the world, and not burn eternally in other parts. See where the bishops in our church are screwed up with the sin of pride? We are suppose to be one apostalic church. Saint Peter will most likely have to ask what part of the world did a soul coming home live in if eating meat on Friday is their sin, to see what their reward or punishment will be!!!

  16. The Spanish Inquisition

    If I am on the correct thread ? … may I direct myself back to the Spanish Inquisition … The clip above doesn’t seem to have elicited comment yet.

    It’s good to see that Catholic humour is not yet dead and buried. Notwithstanding the Python sortie in blasphemy, this is a very funny clip, I certainly enjoyed it.

    There’s a good chance that many people are badly misinformed about the Inquisition, for my money, it was a magnificent institution, but that is maybe because I have read the correct books, the Catholic ones, not the liberal ones.

    Sorry for the hijacking.

    Buenas noches para todos.

  17. Glad to hear about this! Hope this is implemented soon and is strictly obeyed as well! Time for Catholics in the West to begin reclaiming their identity!

  18. Anonymous4:58 PM

    A little follow-up, having read the various other comments.

    First, a correction: it is, as a matter of fact, left to the bishops' conferences to determine the manner in which the Friday penance is to be observed. In the U.S., it was decided that other acts of mercy or charity could substitute for abstinence.

    It might set an undesirable precedent--it's a matter of opinion, surely--to petition the USCCB in this matter. However, it would arguably bring to the bishops' attention the desire of the faithful for a return to traditional practice to submit a petition.

    For those who feel that it would be pointless or that no one would obey, then it seems to me that you've already admitted defeat before joining battle (so to speak).

    Again, I can attest from personal experience that there are many Catholics, even among young people, who are eager for a return of these distinctively Catholic observances, which are demanding yet so rewarding.

    --Fr. Capreolus

  19. \\(And yes, "Jack," speaking for myself I would love to see fasting and abstinence restored to the Lenten ferias and the great Vigils, e.g. Christmas Eve.)\\

    For what it's worth, the present LAW of Lenten Fasting in the Melkite Church parallels that of the Latin Church. In other words, only Pure Monday and Good Friday are days of fast. The other Fridays are days of abstinence, unless Annunciation falls on a Friday.

    However, Patriarch Gregorios has urged the Melkite faithful to observe the TRADITIONAL rules of fast and abstinence (which are obviously much stricter) according to the individual's ability, presumably with guidance of the pastor.

    I will admit that the best I can do is simply avoid meat during that time.


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