Chesterton said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”


Restoration of mandatory meatless Fridays in England and Wales
Since 1985, in England and Wales abstinence from meat has been mandatory only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday; on all other Fridays of the year, including Lenten Fridays, the faithful are allowed to choose between abstaining from meat or doing some other penance. The bishops have now chosen to restore the requirement of meatless Fridays for all Catholics of qualifying age (between the 15th and 60th birthdays).  This will come into effect on 16th September.

It should be noted that this applies to all Catholics, not just those who practice regularly Sunday by Sunday, but also those who are in some way lapsed, but still call and consider themselves Catholics. For those many people, therefore, in families where some members do not practice their Faith regularly, the obligation to abstain from meat on Friday applies to all members of the household. In the same way, it is laudable to encourage the young who have not yet reached the age of obligation to perform this duty willingly.

All those responsible for catering for food for other groups which include Catholics, namely schools, hospitals, youth groups etc, should remember they have a duty to observe this obligation and to provide meals which do not contain meat.

Birthdays, and other days of public or private celebration, are not a reason for overlooking this Catholic duty, which is given to us for our sanctification.

Vegetarians and others who for whatever reason do not eat meat normally are to abstain from a chosen food they eat regularly. It would seem very good advice that this decision be taken in conjunction with one's spiritual director.

We are grateful to our bishops for this act of witness to our Faith, please remember to keep them always in your prayers.

Here is the text of the Bishop's document, which makes clear the prescriptions and explains the reasoning behind them.
Catholic Witness - Friday Penance
By the practice of penance every Catholic identifies with Christ in his death on the cross. We do so in prayer, through uniting the sufferings and sacrifices in our lives with those of Christ’s passion; in fasting, by dying to self in order to be close to Christ; in almsgiving, by demonstrating our solidarity with the sufferings of Christ in those in need. All three forms of penance form a vital part of Christian living. When this is visible in the public arena, then it is also an important act of witness.  
Every Friday is set aside by the Church as a special day of penance, for it is the day of the death of our Lord. The law of the Church requires Catholics to abstain from meat on Fridays, or some other form of food, or to observe some other form of penance laid down by the Bishops’ Conference. 
The Bishops wish to re-establish the practice of Friday penance in the lives of the faithful as a clear and distinctive mark of their own Catholic identity. They recognise that the best habits are those which are acquired as part of a common resolve and common witness. It is important that all the faithful be united in a common celebration of Friday penance. 
Respectful of this, and in accordance with the mind of the whole Church, the Bishops’ Conference wishes to remind all Catholics in England and Wales of the obligation of Friday Penance. The Bishops have decided to re-establish the practice that this should be fulfilled by abstaining from meat.
Those who cannot or choose not to eat meat as part of their normal diet should abstain from some other food of which they regularly partake. This is to come into effect from Friday 16 September 2011 when we will mark the anniversary of the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United Kingdom.
Many may wish to go beyond this simple act of common witness and mark each Friday with a time of prayer and further self-sacrifice. In all these ways we unite our sacrifices to the sacrifice of Christ, who gave up his very life for our salvation.