Cardinal O’Malley: Catholics Can Eat Corned Beef on St. Patrick’s Day

This year, St. Paddy's falls on a Lenten Friday.

Photo via iStock/boblin

Photo via iStock/boblin

Boston’s Catholics find themselves in quite a predicament this year. Though St. Patrick’s Day is typically celebrated with a hearty feast of corned beef and cabbage in honor of the Boston Archdiocese’s patron saint, March 17 falls on a Friday this year—a Lenten Friday.

Catholics over the age of 14 are supposed to avoid eating meat on Fridays between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday, a period of time known as Lent. (This is the same dietary restriction that prompted a McDonald’s franchisee in Cincinnati, situated in a predominantly Catholic neighborhood, to introduce the Filet-O-Fish in 1962.)

But don’t worry—Cardinal Sean O’Malley understands “the corned beef conundrum,” and has issued a decree giving local Catholics a pass this year.


“Given the importance of this feast in the life of the archdiocese and in the lives of so many of our families, I am granting a dispensation from the Friday Lenten abstinence on March 17, 2017, to those who wish to take advantage of this opportunity,” the archbishop wrote.

O’Malley also issued a dispensation in 2006, the last time St. Patrick’s Day fell on a Lenten Friday, but refused to allow Red Sox fans to enjoy a Fenway frank when the home opener coincided with Good Friday.