CEBU CITY-Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma has granted Cebuano Catholics, especially those of Chinese descent, an exemption or dispensation from the Lenten discipline of abstinence in celebration of the Chinese New Year on Friday.
The 67-year-old prelate, in an interview, said the archdiocese understands the value of the celebration for the Chinese community in Cebu.
“The Chinese New Year is an important event for them, so it is but proper to give them the dispensation (from the obligation of fasting),” he said in an interview at the Archbishop’s Residence in Cebu City.
“Even if the Chinese New Year falls on a Friday, they may eat meat when they feel it is part of the celebration,” he added.
Palma said the dispensation covers non-Chinese Cebuanos who wish to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
Those who would avail of the dispensation, however, were encouraged to engage in some other forms of penance, acts of mercy and charity, especially to the poor in keeping with the penitential spirit of the season of Lent.
According to the canon law of the Roman Catholic Church, a dispensation is the exemption from the immediate obligation in certain cases.
This year, the Chinese New Year falls on the first Friday of Lent, the most sacred season for Catholics when they commemorate the passion and death of Jesus Christ.
Those aged 14 and older are obliged to abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all Fridays of Lent as a form of penance and to fortify the will against temptations and evil.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle earlier granted Chinese Catholics under his jurisdiction a dispensation from the obligation of fasting and abstinence on February 16, the celebration of the Chinese New Year.
While Tagle’s order came in a form of a circular, Palma said there was no need for him to issue a written directive as the dispensation was done in Cebu in previous years.