CHICAGO (CBS) – Catholic leaders in the area are giving the faithful, who observe meatless Fridays during Lent, a break on St. Patrick’s Day to enjoy corned beef.

For decades, Catholic leaders have avoided getting in between Irish Catholics and their corned beef when St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday. And this year is no exception. WBBM’s Bernie Tafoya reports.

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Cardinal Blase Cupich and Joliet Bishop Daniel Conlon are giving Catholics a dispensation on eating meat on that day – March 17 – guilt-free.

Fridays during Lent, many Catholics abstain from eating meat; therefore, both Cardinal Cupich and Bishop Conlon ask Catholics if they do plan to eat meat on St. Patrick’s Day to do another penance instead.

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Bishop Conlon even points out that his name is very Irish and he sees no connection between honoring St. Patrick and eating corned beef.

“My name is Conlon — very Irish. More significantly, I am Catholic, and Lent is an important season of prayer, penance and charity. If some fellow Catholics within the Diocese of Joliet feel that eating meat on St. Patrick’s Day – which this year falls on a Friday — is important enough to break the rule of abstinence, they are permitted to make a conscientious decision to do so. In that case, they should substitute some other form of penance,” Bishop Conlon said in a statement. “For myself, I see no connection between honoring the patron saint and apostle of Ireland and eating corned beef.”

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Bishop David Malloy of the Rockford Diocese has also issued a dispensation for St. Patrick’s Day.