Catholics who don't eat meat on Fridays during Lent, as well as give up other things during the 40 or so days of the religious observance before Easter, probably didn't anticipate this year also sacrificing hanging out with friends, heading out to restaurants and bars, and attending most other social gatherings. That's why a New Jersey bishop, and others around the country, have decided to nix the meat fast for the remainder of Lent, NJ.com reports. "Given the difficulties of obtaining some types of food and the many other sacrifices which we are suddenly experiencing given the coronavirus, I have granted a dispensation from abstaining from meat on Fridays for the rest of Lent," the Rev. James Checchio tweeted from the Diocese of Metuchen Twitter account.
Checchio noted that the dispensation doesn't include Good Friday, as giving up meat on that day is "universal law." The Washington Post reports that other bishops around the US are making similar moves, with one Louisiana man of the cloth noting the challenge of adhering to the usual Lenten protocol amid the pandemic. "Obtaining food, including meal alternatives from meat, the rising cost of fish and other forms of seafood, and even the challenge of being able to obtain groceries without endangering their health, make it clearly difficult for [the faithful] to fulfill this practice," Bishop Shelton J. Fabre wrote Thursday on his diocese's website. What Fabre thinks people should do instead: "Substitute this with other forms of penance, especially works of piety and charity." (Read more coronavirus stories.)