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    AmP Countdown: Time left to demand that Congress make health care reform pro-life: 2009-11-07 18:00:00 GMT-05:00


    Thursday, April 23, 2009

    Bishop Conlon restores Friday abstinence from meat in Diocese of Steubenville

    Okay, technically, Catholics in the US are only allowed to dispense from the year-round Friday abstinence from meat if they substitute a comparable penance for it ... but in practice, the vast majority of Catholics have forgotten to even do this.

    Bishop R. Daniel Conlon, however, has dispensed with the substituting ... and has instead brought back the simple Friday abstinence from meat in his diocese. I especially respect that he ties this sacrificial abstinence to witnessing for the unborn and providing them with concrete assistance:

    "I am inviting the Catholic people of the Diocese of Steubenville to resume the practice of abstaining from meat on all Fridays throughout the year, but with a twist. I am asking that this be not only a penitential practice but also an experience of prayer and service. This can happen by connecting abstinence with our witness to the sacredness of human life. (In another section he says: Abstinence can also be service if we eat simple meatless food and donate the financial savings to the poor or to pro-life efforts.)

    ... The resumption of year-round abstinence in the Diocese of Steubenville will begin after this coming Easter, one week after Good Friday (April 17). Although the practice will not be a requirement of law, and failing to keep it will not constitute a sin, I hope every one who is old enough to receive Holy Communion and well enough to come to church will take it seriously. Our parishes, schools and organizations should provide meatless food at their Friday activities.

    ... the present challenge to the people in our diocese is not really radical. It is a call to what many if not most of us have put aside. And it is a way for us, like the apostles, to give up a little food and help Jesus feed the world."

    Bishop Conlon, of course, placed the above mandate within a very well-crafted pastoral letter, which he had read before or at the end of all the Masses in his diocese on the weekend of March 28/29. His catechetical office has also followed-through and provided education materials for school-age children.

    What a wonderful idea - and it need not be limited to Catholics living in the diocese of Steubenville, either! Their fine witness, and the words of their bishop, can inspire us to do the same.

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