British bishops reintroduce meatless Fridays

May 30, 2011

Catholics in England and Wales will be obliged to abstain from meat every Friday under a new rule brought by the bishops.

The "act of common witness" will take effect Sept. 16, the first anniversary of Pope Benedict's visit to Britain.

The rule reverses a relaxation of the Friday penance regulations introduced in England and Wales in 1984.

Critics have said the end of a tradition in which Catholics ate fish or eggs instead of meat on Fridays led to a loss of common identity, with many Catholics today abstaining from meat only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

The bishops decided to restore the old practice at their May 9-16 plenary meeting in Leeds.