The bishops of England and Wales are re-establishing the practice of abstaining from meat on Fridays as a penance to identify with Christ on the cross.
In the resolutions published from their spring plenary assembly, which concluded Thursday, the bishops announced the re-establishment of the practice, to go into effect Sept. 16.
"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," a statement of resolutions from the assembly reminded. "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," the statement announced.
The prelates added that 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," the resolution stated.
The prelates said those who do not eat meat normally should abstain from some other food on Fridays.
The date for the re-establishment of meatless Fridays, Sept. 16, marks the anniversary of Benedict XVI's visit to the United Kingdom last year.
"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," the bishops' statement concluded. "In all these ways we unite our sacrifices to the sacrifice of Christ, who gave up his very life for our salvation."