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Where are Catholics allowed to eat corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day this Lent?

By CNA Staff

This year St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday.

For those who aren’t Catholic but are keen on observing the feast day with green beer and the traditional corned beef and cabbage, this is something of a happy coincidence and a great way to end the work week.

For Catholics it’s problematic. It’s Lent, a penitential time when Catholics are supposed to abstain from meat on Fridays.

As the luck of the Irish would have it, there is a way out of this dilemma. Diocesan bishops can give the faithful a dispensation to allow them to eat meat on March 17. The National Catholic Register’s Matt McDonald surveyed all of the bishops in the U.S. to find out which ones are offering a free pass on St. Patrick’s Day.

Here’s what he heard back:

“More than three-quarters of the country’s diocesan bishops — 137 — had answered the question by deadline. Of those, 105 are offering some relief for St. Patrick’s Day: 80 have said yes to a dispensation; 25 are offering a ‘commutation,’ requiring Catholics in their diocese to substitute some other penance if they plan to eat meat on Friday, March 17; and 32 have said no.”

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So, before heading out to celebrate, here’s a handy map showing which dioceses have given the green light (sorry) to eating meat on St. Patrick’s Day:

To learn about the history of the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day by Irish Catholics in the United States read this fascinating article by McDonald in the National Catholic Register.


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