To the Clergy, the Religious, and the Lay Faithful of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux [Louisiana]

One of the obligations imposed upon all of us during the season of Lent is the observance of abstinence from eating meat on all Fridays of Lent, as well as on Ash Wednesday and on Good Friday.  The law on abstinence binds all those who have attained the age of fourteen. 

However, the new Corona Virus Disease or COVID-19 has placed most, if not all, of our faithful in a situation wherein obtaining food, including meal alternatives from meat, the rising cost of fish and other forms of seafood, and even the challenge of being able to obtain groceries without endangering their health, make it clearly difficult for them to fulfill this practice. 

I am being mindful of this and have our people’s best interest in my heart.  Nevertheless, I am also aware that these Fridays of Lent will remain as days of penance and prayer. 

Therefore, for those who are able to keep this practice, I encourage you to continue fulfilling this obligation for your spiritual benefits and the good of the Church. 

However, for those who sincerely find it difficult to embrace this practice, I hereby grant you dispensation from the obligation to abstain from eating meat for the remaining Fridays in Lent (4th and 5th weeks). Instead, I ask that you substitute this with other forms of penance, especially works of piety and charity in place of the abstinence in accord with canon 1253 of the Code of Canon Law. 

Finally, the faithful is to be reminded that the law on abstinence and fasting for Good Friday is never dispensed and therefore must be observed in its entirety. 

This decree will take effect today, the 24th of March, 2020. 

+ Most Rev. Shelton J. Fabre