Reclaiming Catholic Identity, England and Wales Bring Back Meatless Fridays

I’ve written before that I think a return to mandatory meatless Fridays is a great idea.

The Catholic Church of England and Wales has officially returned to the practice:

The practice of abstaining from eating meat on Fridays has returned to the Catholic Church in England and Wales after an absence of 27 years.

… “Over the past 20 to 30 years we’ve perhaps lost touch with some of the more grounded Catholic practices and that, in turn, has chipped away at belief in more fundamental things too. So the restoration of this ancient Catholic tradition can help reverse that trend,” Schofield said.

The decision to reinstate the custom was announced by the bishops of England and Wales in May. September 16 was chosen as the reintroduction date because it marks the first anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s arrival in the United Kingdom.

The practice of abstaining from meat on Fridays was traditionally a way of remembering that Jesus Christ died on that day of the week. However, the Church in England and Wales abandoned the centuries-old custom back in 1984.

At the time, the bishops stressed that other forms of Friday penances were also acceptable. The result, though, seemed to be that the practice of Friday penance fell away altogether. [CNA]

A good anecdote about how meatless Fridays support Catholic identity and represent an easy manner of quiet (yet effective) Catholic witness:

The bishops also hope the custom will help draw others to the Catholic Church. In a statement earlier this month, they observed that “traditional Catholic devotions such as making the sign of the cross with care and reverence, praying the Angelus, saying a prayer before and after our meals, to name only a few,” can be “a powerful call to faith.”

“I’d agree,” says Dominic Schofield, “the decision by the bishops will have great apostolic value.

“For example, when somebody now asks ‘Do you have any special dietary requirements?’ we can now say, ‘Yes, I can’t eat meat on a Friday. I’m a Catholic!’”

In solidarity with our Brit Catholic friends, I’m not having meat this Friday. I invite you to do the same!



  • Margaret

    I think meatless fridays are wonderfull. I am a cradle Catholic and have never eaten meat on friday. God Bless Wales

  • chrysd

    My husband has been having our family do meatless Fridays since I converted or shortly thereafter. I love meat and happen to be reading this on a Thursday. May have to grab a little something while I still can. :). Lunch is easy- sandwiches- PBs, grilled cheese, tuna, or egg salad. Cereal or oatmeal with fruit, blueberry pancakes or muffins, omelets too. Dinner is harder. I usually plan around a protein-carb main entree. If we could do seafood, I wouldn’t feel like I am missing out. And cheese pizza gets old.
    Otherwise, I like the idea of traditions and wish our parish did more. Parishes in a bigger town nearby do have a rosary before Mass, first Fridays, and sign-up for 24 hour Eucharistic Adoration. Even did a procession in May crowning Mary with flowers as a Catholic 4H group activity. Our homeschool group plans things like All Saints Day and St. Nicholas (instead of Christmas) parties. So we get a little when we can make it down.

  • caroline

    I abstain of meat on friday too. The only time in my life when I ate meat is when I worked for a parish (In France). I ate in the rectory and the priests didn’t fast at all!

    What a shame…

  • Rod

    I’ve also been doing it for a few years now. I learned on Relevant Radio this never really went away. I looked it up the Cannon and have been doing it ever since except during feast times. Even then, I do some other sort of penance.

  • Laura

    I’m all for this. I think it’s wonderful to return to traditions that have fallen away. As a recent convert (2006), I love traditional Catholic devotions and practices and view them as a wonderful treasure. However, one question: if one doesn’t eat meat on Fridays simply because “it’s what Catholics do”, or out of habit without any thought, does it count as penance?

  • Ana

    Love it! I grew up with meatless Fridays and have tried to do with at home with our seven children. Sometimes if it is a feast or a special occasion we eat meat on a Friday. This is a custom that helps us to put things in perspective, a reminder of the sufferings of our Lord in our quotidian, ordinary life. I am all for it!



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