Okay, technically, Catholics in the US are only allowed to dispense from the year-round Friday abstinence from meat if they substitute a comparable penance for it ... but in practice, the vast majority of Catholics have forgotten to even do this. Bishop R. Daniel Conlon, however, has dispensed with the substituting ... and has instead brought back the simple Friday abstinence from meat in his diocese. I especially respect that he ties this sacrificial abstinence to witnessing for the unborn and providing them with concrete assistance:
"I am inviting the Catholic people of the Diocese of Steubenville to resume the practice of abstaining from meat on all Fridays throughout the year, but with a twist. I am asking that this be not only a penitential practice but also an experience of prayer and service. This can happen by connecting abstinence with our witness to the sacredness of human life. (In another section he says: Abstinence can also be service if we eat simple meatless food and donate the financial savings to the poor or to pro-life efforts.)"
I know the dispensing of Friday abstinence had little to do with Vatican II, at least officially. But this is clearly one of the fruits of that SVII. Most of those fruits seem to be directed toward the shedding of our Catholic identity, be it liturgy, music, prayer, devotions, vocations, theology, or attitude. And like all the other dominoes that fell, it leaves those of us who grew up in the post-conciliar years scratching our heads. After all, they didn’t really dispense with Friday abstinence. They allowed it's dispensing only in the case of a willful substitution of penance. But no one knows that! Well, some people know that, but if you will allow me to generalize, this amendment to Friday abstinence was universally misunderstood. I guess my annoyance at liturgical abuses is misplaced when we can’t even get a simple precept of the Church correct. How could the shepherds of the Church allow this ignorance among the faithful?
Well, maybe they had other fish to fry.
Good for the Diocese of Steubenville! I pray that the faithful get behind this. If they do, other episcopates may follow Bishop Conlon's lead.