There's some good news for North Texas Catholics who are looking to celebrate a St. Patrick's Day pastime while also observing Lent.
St Patrick's Day falls on a Friday this year, and since it's during Lent, it's a day when Catholics are not supposed to eat meat. That would pose a dilemma for some looking forward to corned beef -- if it weren't for both the Diocese of Fort Worth and the Diocese of Dallas making an exception.
"Because the Memorial of St. Patrick is a common celebratory day in the United States and locally, I hereby decree that on Friday, March 17, 2023, all Catholics of the Diocese of Dallas, no matter where they may be, and all other Catholics actually present in the diocese on that day, are dispensed from the obligation to abstain from meat," Diocese of Dallas Bishop Edward J. Burns wrote.
The same goes for parishioners in the Diocese of Fort Worth.
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"Given the cultural importance and patronage of Saint Patrick within the Diocese of Fort Worth, I decree that when his memorial falls on a Friday of Lent, the faithful of the Diocese are dispensed from the law of abstinence from meat," wrote Fort Worth Bishop Michael F. Olson.
Catholics are not required to use the dispensation and may continue "the laudable practice of abstaining from meat on this Friday of Lent," Burns wrote.
The St. Patrick's Day holiday is a cultural and religious celebration held annually on March 17, the death anniversary of the patron saint of Ireland. In the United States, the holiday has turned into a largely secular holiday that celebrates all things Irish -- most notably: beer, corned beef and cabbage.
But corned beef poses a problem for those observing Lent, the period of preparation and fasting that occurs in the 40 days leading up to Easter. Catholics are supposed to observe meatless Fridays, but local religious leaders are granting them a day off in honor of St. Patrick.
Catholics are instead asked to forgo eating meat on another day of Lent or to perform a work of charity or exercise of piety instead.