Rorate Caeli

The Friday after Thanksgiving Day indult ...

A friendly and tasty reminder that there is a strong argument to be made that there is no required abstinence from meat this Friday.

While always a topic of great discussion, it is a fact that Pope Pius XII granted Americans a dispensation from their Friday abstinence, so that they may enjoy turkey the Friday after Thanksgiving. I say "enjoy" turkey because that is truly the only reason he would have granted it -- the arguments over refrigeration and whether meat would spoil don't hold water since wide-spread, in-home refrigeration (as well as cable TV) actually did exist in the 1950s.

So eat your turkey this Friday and give great thanks to a merciful God for all that we have to be thankful for. And, while you're at it, thank and pray for Pope Pius XII before you dive into that turkey, that he may be canonized a saint soon.

Also, there will be no posting of souls for the Rorate Caeli Purgatorial Society this week. All souls sent in will be posted next week.

A reminder on how to enroll souls: please email me at and submit as follows: "Name, State, Country". If you want to enroll entire families, simply write in the email: "The Jones family, Rome, Italy". Individual names are preferred. Be greedy -- send in as many as you wish and forward this posting to friends as well.


  1. Francis2:34 PM

    Because of Pope Pius XII indult, I have always enjoyed leftover turkey the day after Thanksgiving without giving it a second thought. I wish all my fellow American Rorate readers a Blessed Thanksgiving!

  2. I didn't know this. Terrific!

  3. Adfero said:

    "so that they may enjoy turkey the Friday after Thanksgiving"


    I think that I
    Shall never see
    A sandwich like

    Between two pieces
    Of white bread
    The thought excites
    For what’s ahead.

    But salt and pepper
    Movers and shakers
    Cry to me,
    “Do we have takers?”

    “My man is pepper
    Don’t tempt me salt
    Though strongly attracted
    This all must halt.”

    But sassy-salt
    He winks at me
    Seducing to

    “Pepper, pepper
    He’s my man.”
    Sassy-salt says,
    “Yes, you can.”

    With quivering hand
    I grab the cellar
    “Oh, sassy-salt
    I love you feller!”

    Poured on the love
    In corner arrived
    Devoured my sandwich
    But still seemed deprived.

    “I feel so cheap
    And not at all sated
    Turkey sandwich
    So anticipated.”

    I sink in a stupor
    Of deep dark haze
    Realizing the wages of salt
    Are you’ll forget the mayonnaise!!

  4. I didn't know this either.

    But I am so use to abstaining from meat on Friday's , that I think I will ..I do love fish and those yummy grilled cheese sandwichs.
    God Bless and Happy Thanksgiving to all.

  5. hebetissimus5:52 PM

    I do not want to occasion scruples for anyone, but I wonder if a canonist reader could comment whether the vacatio legis of 1983 may have altered the currency of this indult.

  6. Barry6:12 PM

    I thought Catholicsmwere only required to abstain from near on Fridays in Lent? Wouldn't this be a mute point in 2012?

  7. “…and pray for Pope Pius XII before you dive into that turkey, that he may be canonized a saint soon”

    Were this to happen, it would be an marvellous step forward for the Church. Papa Pacelli was a truly magnificent pope,he is very much underestimated by many. This is why so many of the evil ones attack him and his apostolate so viciously, they certainly know the good popes from the “less good” ones.

  8. Seraph7:57 PM

    Many traditionalists voluntarily keep to the older form of abstaining from meat on all Fridays of the year for their penance. Friday is still a day of penance in the Church. The Church still recommends abstaining from meat, but does not require it. The bishops allowed for substitutions in place of meat, but the requirement for some type of penance was never taken away.

  9. This is great news! But, I agree, we might need to know how applicable this still is, today. Though in the US abstinence is not required as the only form of Friday penance, penance "equal to abstinence" is required. Does the Holy Pope's indult still apply, and does it dispense us from the law of penance completely, or just abstinence? Given that not following the Church's absence laws is the mater for mortal sin, I'd like to be 110% sure it's still valid, before I enjoy some fine Polish sausage...

  10. Gravitas9:51 PM

    Tom, there is no mortal sin attached to meat anymore. I think their point to this post is to remind trads that they can eat meat without guild on this one Friday a yeat because it was granted by the last traditional Pope.

  11. Gravitas,
    It's a bit of a grey area. Following the abstinence laws is a precept of the Church. Willfully disobeying a precept, such as that, is the matter of mortal sin (but not the form of it). The norm of the Church is abstinence on all Fridays, but national bishops' conferences may allow an alternative form of penance "equal to abstinence" - this is the case in the US, but no longer in England and Wales. To eat meat on a Friday in England/Wales is materially a mortal sin, for it violates the Church's precept. In the US, one may eat meat, so long as they perform some act "equal to abstinence". If one eats meat, but fails to perform such an equitable act, they have violated the law of the Church. That is how eating meat is sinful on a Friday, and why I want to know the applicability of the Pope's indult. I have a sneaking suspicion it was abrogated, somehow. Unless proven otherwise, I'm not going to risk it.

  12. Gravitas11:44 PM

    Tom, the USCCB did away with the mortal sin attached to the abstinence in 1966. Right it wrong, they did. Only the magisterium can say whether its a sin. They punted that to the bishops and they said no. So no, there's no mortal sin, material or otherwise.

  13. Gravitas,
    Thank you for your information. That was not my impression of what the Bishops did (the removal of mortal sinfulness), but I have been wrong once or twice before. Could you point me to where this is stated?
    Thank you

  14. Gravitas1:12 AM

    Tom, it's here:

  15. The following mention on the "liturgical renewal" caught my attention from Gravitas' link:

    Pastoral Statement on Penance and Abstinence

    Issued by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops November 18, 1966:

    "5. Changing customs, especially in connection with preparation for Christmas, have diminished popular appreciation of the Advent season. Something of a holiday mood of Christmas appears now to beanticipated in the days of the Advent season.

    "As a result, this season has unfortunately lost in great measure the role of penitential preparation for Christmas that it once had.

    "6. Zealous Christians have striven to keep alive or to restore the spirit of Advent by resisting the trend away from the disciplines and austerities that once characterized the season among us.

    "Perhaps their devout purpose will be better accomplished, and the point of Advent will be better fostered if we

    *******rely on the liturgical renewal and the new emphasis on the liturgy*******

    to restore its deeper understanding as a season of effective preparation for the mystery of the Nativity."

    Hmmm...I wonder how that worked out?


  16. Matthew Rose4:34 AM

    I think this indult is actually abrogated, such that one may not lawfully eat meat this Friday:

    "Therefore, the following is declared and established:

    2. Apart from the faculties referred to in VI and VIII regarding the manner of fulfilling the precept of penitence on such days, abstinence is to be observed on every Friday which does not fall on a day of obligation, while abstinence and fast are to be observed on Ash Wednesday or, according to local practice, on the first day of 'Great Lent' and on Good Friday (see note at end)."

  17. Matthew Rose:

    Moot and academic, because the US bishops have ruled that abstinence is no longer required on any Friday outside of Lent anyway.

    The point of this post is to ease the conscience of those who have personally resolved to continue strictly following the rules of abstinence and fasting that obtained in the years prior to Vatican II, without necessarily denying the liceity of the post-1965 laws on this matter.

  18. Francesco9:19 AM

    Would this apply to Americans living abroad, especially if we buy/make a different meat (for lack of turkey in our non-native countries)?

  19. Augustinus said:

    "The point of this post is to ease the conscience"

    All I want to know is can I still have salt and mayonnaise?

  20. Gotta ask your doctor, Long-Skirts!

  21. Anonymous7:04 PM

    Folks, right or wrong, there is no mortal sin attached to abstinence or any other penance on Fridays outside of lent in the U.S. Yes, we are urged to abstain or do something else. But there is no mortal sin attached to not abstaining. This isn't an opinion, it is fact.

  22. Both I (a former Milwaukeean) and Bishop Daniel Dolan (a former Detroiter) remember the abstinence being dispensed pre-V2 for the Friday after Thanksgiving.

    I suspect the individual Ordinaries customarily dispensed that day in virtue of the Quinquennial faculties.

    Our Pastor also did it for altar boy outings on Fridays (bowling, or the ballpark).

    Eat up!

  23. Anonymous11:23 PM

    Thanks Father! First-hand knowledge, especially from priests, is most appreciated.

  24. Surely, eating turkey is a penance in itself.

  25. Anonymous10:27 PM

    Please don't waste your time writing or our time deleting comments simply saying there's mortal sin attached to no abstaining from meat or doing other penance on Fridays outside of Lent in the US. There isn't. Is is not in the current code.

    To say it is is tantamount to liberals saying there's a right to privacy (arbortion) n the constitution. Unless the framers and the the Church wrote these words in invisible ink they don't exist.