Rorate Caeli

Friday abstinence from meat to return in U.S.?

Timothy Cardinal Dolan, as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, spoke yesterday to his brother bishops in America.  Much of the talk was on how wonderful the Second Vatican Council was, followed by how Catholics need to repent and reverse the decline of faith since the Second Vatican Council with a "new evangelization."

However, one line in his speech is quite noteworthy:

"The work of our Conference during the coming year includes reflections on re-embracing Friday as a particular day of penance, including the possible re-institution of abstinence on all Fridays of the year, not just during Lent."

According to the new Canon Law, all the USCCB has to do (like England and Wales's bishops did last year) is officially determine all Fridays are days of abstinence from meat, and it is binding on American Catholics (again).  Currently there is culinary ambiguity.  Quoting from #1251 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law:

"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..."

The speech by Cardinal Dolan is not the first time the USCCB president has mentioned Friday abstinence (in blog posts, he has also cited Ember Days, Lenten fasting and feast day vigils).  Taking action on these words would certainly be a big deal in the U.S., a move that would likely define Cardinal Dolan as a shepherd serious about restoring discipline within the Catholic Church in America.