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US Catholics free to eat alligator this Lent

An alligator swims in everglades waters in Florida (PA) Below: The Catholic Herald cartoon (Christian Adams)

This Lent US Catholics are free to eat alligator after the support given last year by US bishops’ conference to the Archbishop of New Orleans, who said that it was permissible.

Parishioner Jim Piculas sent Archbishop Gregory M Aymond a letter in 2010 in order to settle a debate between his friends. In the letter he asked the archbishop if alligator meat was acceptable to eat on Lenten Fridays, when many US Catholics traditionally abstain from eating meat.

Piculas posted the Archbishop’s reply on Facebook last month and the message went viral. Archbishop Aymond said: “God has created a magnificent creature that is important to the state of Louisiana and it is considered seafood.”

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops posted a message on its website entitled ‘Lent and Lenten Practices’ in support of Archbishop Aymond’s statement. “Abstinence laws consider that meat comes only from animals such as chickens, cows, sheep or pigs – all of which live on land. Birds are also considered meat… Fish are a different category of animal. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, (cold-blooded animals) and shellfish are permitted,” it said.

In accordance with this statement, Catholic can, if they wish, also consume turtles, snakes, lizards, and tortoises on Lenten Fridays. Alligator is a delicacy of Louisiana where it is often served deep-fried, in sandwiches, and even in cheesecake.