Archbishop Charles J. Chaput is giving Catholics in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia the green light to eat meat on St. Patrick's Day this year, despite the holiday falling on a Friday during Lent.
Chaput said he decided to grant the dispensation due to the special circumstances presented by the Irish-inspired holiday on March 17.
"However," according to the archdiocese's statement, "if a Catholic makes the choice not to abstain from meat, then some other penance of choice is to be observed in honor of the passion and death of our Lord on the cross."
Bishop Dennis J. Sullivan also granted a dispensation to Catholics living the six South Jersey counties in the Diocese of Camden.
Practicing Catholics who are 14 years old or older are expected to refrain from eating meat on Fridays during Lent in accordance with church tradition. Only diocesan bishops can grant dispensation from following the tradition.