Region Catholics faced a quandary this year since St. Patrick's Day falls on a Friday: stick to fish and pepper and egg sandwiches since it's Lent or observe the Irish holiday the traditional way with corned beef and cabbage?
If you're faithful but feel like the holiday just wouldn't be the same without a plate of corned beef to pair with your Guinness, don't worry. You won't have to settle for just cabbage, carrots and potatoes.
Gary Diocese Bishop Donald Hying says it's cool, just this once.
Hying stepped in so Northwest Indiana Catholics could have a clear conscience to tuck into corned beef on St. Paddy's Day, without having to cop to it at confession later. He gave his blessing, by way of a special dispensation, for Catholics to eat meat this Friday as long as they skip it some other day or do a special act of penance.
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"The Fridays of Lent are marked by the discipline of abstinence from meat," he wrote. "For those who wish to eat meat in conjunction with their celebration of St. Patrick's Day, Friday, March 17, 2017, I commute your abstinence on that day to abstinence on another day of your choosing or some other special act of penance."
Hying also invited Region Catholics to reflect on the Pastoral Statement On Penance and Abstinence the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops made in 1966, specifically this passage:
"Friday itself remains a special day of penitential observance throughout the year, a time when those who seek perfection will be mindful of their personal sins and the sins of mankind which they are called upon to help expiate in union with Christ Crucified. Friday should be in each week something of what Lent is in the entire year. For this reason we urge all to prepare for that weekly Easter that comes with each Sunday by freely making of every Friday a day of self-denial and mortification in prayerful remembrance of the passion of Jesus Christ."