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World News

Give up meat on Fridays - for environmental as well as spiritual reasons - say Catholic bishops

by Donna Birrell

Catholic Bishops in England and Wales are urging all Catholics to commit to the tradition of not eating meat on Fridays - for environmental as well as theological reasons. 

Speaking at a press conference, Bishop John Arnold who is Bishop of Salford and the lead bishop on the environment, said that a recent Cambridge University study had shown that a quarter of Catholics in the UK still observe a 'no meat Friday.' He said this has a considerable impact on lessening carbon emissions by 55,000 tonnes each year - that's the equivalent to 82,000 people taking return flights to New York from London. Bishop Arnold said :

"This is not to be disregarded, so the Bishops are keen to see a return to this practice, which for eleven centuries since Nicholas the First imposed it in the 9th Century, has been seen as a penitential and spiritual act. But now we can see it as having a really practical impact on our environment.

"It will be a testament if we can engage Catholics to make this very practical input, but it's also a testament to those who face hunger and poverty every day and to the concern people have to the environment. And all being in the light of Friday when we are understanding the death of Christ and his suffering."

The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales were meeting for biannual plenary sessions during the COP27 climate summit. 

Reflecting on the event, Bishop Arnold went on to say that the Bishops were aware that the reports from the summit were "not inspiring in their content.I was personally rather struck by Rishi Sunak's speech in which he said the UK was taking an international lead. But that doesn't seem to be backed up by too many policies, particularly when granting 130 licences for fossil fuel exploration in the North Sea." 


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