Friday, February 15, 2013

Are gators Lenten fare?



  1. I am afraid that the Roman Catholic Archbishop is misinformed. Alligators are not fish, Alligators are reptiles Besides they have a backbone, which means that they are not lenten food, even on those days like the Annunciation and Palm Sunday when we can eat fish. When I was assigned to Shreveport, I asked Bishop Basil about it and he told me that alligators could not be considered lenten food.

    Fr. John W. Morris

  2. The Catholic traditions in the then missionary territories of the Americas tended to call things that spent most the time in the water as "fish" whether that is biologically correct or not. South of Detroit locally Catholics are permitted muskrat as lenten food. In New Orleans apparently Alligator is by tradition also considered a "fish." In parts of South America Capybaras, a water-borne rodent, is considered fish and appropriate for Lent. Local quirkiness that has stuck around until modern times is all it adds up to. These locals with special dispensations are still abstaining form certain foods as a penance, that is what really matters.

  3. FR. Morris,
    Fish have backbones, so that cannot be a point of distinction between fish and alligators.
    You might want to recall that the rules about what is meat (which is to be avoided for abstinence) were established long before modern understandings of family connections among animalia, and that the traditional understanding was that meat was from warm-blooded animals only. That would put reptiles in the "not-meat" category which includes, but is not limited to, fish.

    1. When one strict fasts, one does not eat anything with a back bone. That is why we can eat shrimp, mussels or even lobster even during a strict fast. An historical note. Although today we consider lobster a luxury food. That was not always the case. Not that long ago lobster was food for the peasants and servants, not the elite.

  4. Interesting letter..knew some how about the alligator.plastic business cards