Dolan proposes a return to Friday abstinence

With word out that the bishops will consider a return to abstaining from meat on Fridays, it looks like a few places are already ahead of the curve with “Meatless Mondays”:

For one day each week, the Los Angeles City Council wants residents to go vegetarian.

In a unanimous 12-0 vote, the council approved a resolution Friday endorsing the “meatless Monday” campaign and asking residents to make a personal pledge to ditch meat for one day a week.

The resolution makes L.A. the largest city to     sign on to the international “Meatless Mondays” campaign, which aims to reduce meat consumption for health and environmental reasons.

It also comes two years after L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told The Times that he had cut meat from his Monday diet as part of his health regimen.

According to the nonprofit campaign, which was started in 2003 in conjunction with the Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health, cutting meat from your diet can reduce the risk on cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

Meantime, Ed Peters is jumping on the meat-free-Friday bandwagon:

For what it’s worth, I unequivocally endorse the re-institution of Friday abstinence in the US. This decision lies quite within the authority of the USCCB (see 1983 CIC 455, and 1249-1253) and, among other things, would render moot, once and for all, nagging questions about whether the episcopal conference ever really got around to substituting “other forms of penance” for abstinence from meat back in 1966, or 1983/1984, or whenever.

Still I can hear it now: “Okay, Peters, if you’re so gung-ho in Friday abstinence, do you abstain from meat on Fridays now, and even if you do, why should it be made a law for everybody?” Fair enough.

First, I don’t abstain on most Fridays now. Most times I simply forget; moreover, I’m pretty good at talking myself out of inconvenient observances if they are largely personal. I need the directives toward goods (like penance) and away from evils (like presumption) that law by its very nature offers. Second, abstaining from meat on Fridays would not be to introduce a new rule, but rather, to eliminate a variance on or exception to the common (and ancient*) rule of abstinence that is already set out in canon law, above. Third, the corporate example of all Catholics engaging in some sort of common religious exercise outside of Sunday morning is, I think, desperately needed in a world that wants to relegate religious observances to a six-hour window once a week.

But while pondering the hamburger you won’t be having, here’s some rich and satisfying food for thought: Cardinal Dolan’s address to the bishops.  Read it all.  It’s sensational.


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