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Catholics get a break for St. Patrick's Day

Danny Boy, please pass the cabbage. And don't forget the corned beef.

Bishop Edward U. Kmiec said it is OK to indulge in the traditional St. Patrick's Day meal -- meat included -- even though this year the Irish holiday is on a Friday during Lent.

Kmiec, the Diocese of Buffalo's first Polish-American bishop, granted a "general dispensation" to all Catholics from the duty to abstain from meat on March 17, St. Patrick's Day.

Normally, Catholics older than 14 are expected to avoid eating meat on Fridays during Lent, the six-week Christian season leading up to Easter.

Lent begins next Wednesday and runs through April 13, the Thursday before Easter.

Buffalo's Catholic bishops historically have been of Irish heritage and, in a nod to the sizable Irish-American population here, usually relax the meat rule.

Kmiec will continue the custom at the request of several local Irish groups.

Kmiec is scheduled to attend the St. Patrick's Day luncheon at the Irish Center on Abbott Road in South Buffalo. Buffalo bishops typically grant a specific dispensation each year for the luncheon, held the Friday before St. Patrick's Day.

The general dispensation allows Catholics in the diocese to eat meat guilt-free that day. It's not limited to corned beef, so chicken wings, Polish sausage and pepperoni pizza are fair game, too.

This is the first year since 2000 that the day honoring the patron saint of Ireland falls on a Lenten Friday.


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