Catholics and Meat

Catholics and Meat

This is an article posted by Reverend Geoffrey who is a priest of the Roman Catholic archdiocese in Ottawa and is in answer to the question of Roman Catholics and meat, “Is it a virtue not to eat meat?”

The Catholic Church provides five precepts, or rules, to help people understand what living a Christian life looks like. The fourth precept deals with the obligatory days of fasting and abstaining from eating meat: "You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church," and this rule helps prepare us for the liturgical feasts and helps us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2043).

There are only two days of the year when the Catholic Church obliges its members to refrain from eating meat to observe special days of penance - Ash Wednesday, which begins the holy season of Lent, and Good Friday, when we remember Christ's crucifixion and death on the Cross.

But many Catholics laudably continue as well to observe the tradition of avoiding meat on Fridays throughout the year. By choosing to avoid meat on Fridays, Catholic Christians remind ourselves that Jesus Christ suffered and died for us on Good Friday and this small sacrifice on our part helps us remember and appreciate the great gift of our redemption.

For people who wish to observe Fridays, yet cannot avoid eating meat, they can substitute another moderate penitential practice instead. Other than the prescribed days of fasting and abstaining from eating meat, the Catholic Church does not have any dietary restrictions.

We are encouraged, however, to be moderate in satisfying our bodily needs and to respect God's creation, which encourages us to ask questions about how justly and ethically our food is grown, produced and distributed.

Religious Opinion

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