Return of Meat Free Friday urged for Britain's Catholics, but fish still on the menu

A Christian fish symbol drawn in sandBritain’s Catholics are being urged to readopt a religious custom and have a meat-free Friday. The ruling was made by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, which met in Leeds last week.

Church leaders believe believers will welcome the move, but meat-reducers and MFMers will agree that a failure to include fish in the definition of “meat” constitutes a miss opportunity.

“What we have sought to do in this decision is to establish a shared practice, a shared habit, because habits that are carried out together are better learned and are stronger – we give each other mutual support,” said Vincent Nichols, the archbishop of Westminster and head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales.

“So that’s why there’s a simple, across-the-board expectation that this will be something that Catholics will do.”

The Catholic Church has historically seen Friday as a day of penance, setting it aside for fasting and prayer. A symbolic shared act of denial, Catholics have traditionally eaten fish on a Friday instead.

But while many are predicting an increase in sales, campaigners and environmentalists hope Britain’s six million Catholics will go entirely meat-free for the day.

The rise in popularity of the Meat Free Monday message – combining a growing concern for the environment with an increasing awareness of the health issues of eating too much meat – makes this a perfect opportunity for Catholics to adopt a truly meat-free day.

The move back to a meat-free Friday will be urged from September 16, the year anniversary of a visit to Scotland and England by Pope Benedict. Vegetarian Catholics will be urged to give up another staple food.

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