If my local bishop hasn’t given a dispensation for corned beef on a Lenten Friday, may I eat it if I am in another diocese on that day?
If a diocesan bishop provides a dispensation on a Lenten Friday, such as when St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) lands on a Friday, as it does this year, it’ll typically be for all meat, not simply corned beef, even though the latter is a favorite for many celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.
More to the point, if your diocesan bishop has not provided a dispensation, you can still celebrate, but the Church directs you to abstain from eating corned beef or other meat, remembering that such obedience is ultimately loving obedience to Jesus Christ himself, who gave his Church the disciplinary power to bind and loose (Matthew 16:19; 18:15-18). In the Church’s Code of Canon Law, the Church provides, “Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday” (canon 1251). St. Patrick’s Day is not a solemnity.
If your travels take you to another diocese and that bishop has provided a dispensation, you may enjoy corned beef. To find out whether your diocesan bishop is going to dispense on St. Patrick’s Day, contact your parish or the diocesan chancery.
By Tom Nash