Tuesday, November 24, 2020
Does the Turkey Indult Exist?

Turkey Indult for Catholics

No "turkey indult" exists in the form many believe, even though many Catholics attached to the 1962 Missal claim a dispensation from meat on the Friday after Thanksgiving, citing Pope Pius XII as the source of the dispensation. 

The dispensation from meat on the day after Thanksgiving was granted in 1962 in the form of quinquennial faculties given to local ordinaries to dispense from abstinence on the Friday after Thanksgiving Day, as stated by Bouscaren in the Canon Law Digest. The quinquennial faculties lasted for five years only unless they were renewed. After this point, there was no need to because of Paenitemini and, more importantly, because of the November 1966 decree by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB), which made abstinence on all Fridays throughout the year "especially recommended" but not obligatory. Thus, the privileges expired.

Before 1962, the Bishops in the United States did not generally dispense from Friday abstinence on the Friday after Thanksgiving. It may be argued that some bishops may have invoked the ability to dispense abstinence with the Friday after Thanksgiving as a holiday, which was made possible due to faculties granted to local ordinaries as early as 1931, but no concrete examples confirm this. 

The only proof of these "turkey indults" comes from 1962 and after. In 1963, the Bishop of Little Rock, Arkansas, made use of these privileges and dispensed the faithful from mandatory abstinence from meat on the Friday after Thanksgiving:
"By reason of special faculties, His Excellency, the Most Reverend Bishop, grants herewith the following dispensations: from the Law of Fast on the Feast of St. Joseph, Tuesday, March 19; from the Law of Abstinence on Friday, November 29, (day after Thanksgiving) and from the Laws of Fast and Abstinence on Saturday, December 7, Vigil of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception."
Such a dispensation from the law of abstinence was not permanently part of Church law by virtue of it being the Friday after Thanksgiving. The aforementioned privileges granted in 1962 have expired. The research of Romanitas Press confirms this. 

Conclusion: Should Catholics eat meat on the Friday after Thanksgiving without the dispensation of a bishop or a priest? No.

Want to learn more about the history of fasting and abstinence? Check out the Definitive Guide to Catholic Fasting and Abstinence.

4 comment(s):

del_button November 24, 2020 at 12:53 PM
Paul said...

Here's the New Liturgical Movement article on the same topic: http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/2020/11/on-mythical-pius-xii-thanksgiving.html#disqus_thread

del_button November 25, 2022 at 1:56 PM
Roseanne T. Sullivan said...

I am confused! Mark Brumley at Ignatius Press published this: "The little-known Thanksgiving Indult, Quo Primum Turkeyore, from the little-known Pope Pius XIII, thirty-day successor of Pius XII and predecessor of Pope St John XXIII, allows US Catholics to eat Turkey (but no other meat) on the Friday immediately following Thanksgiving. It is still in force, being irrevocably issued.
“We specifically command each and every patriarch, administrator, and all other persons or whatever ecclesiastical dignity they may be, be they even cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, or possessed of any other rank or pre-eminence, acting within or for or concerning the jurisdiction of the Catholic United States of America, and We order them in virtue of holy obedience to allow their subjects to eat turkey, on the Friday immediately after the Day in the United States known as Thanksgiving, according to the manner and norm herewith laid down by Us and, hereafter, to discontinue and completely discard all other norms or rules or laws or customs or passing fads, however ancient or recent, which they have customarily followed; and they must not in celebrating Thanksgiving or the day following, presume to introduce any culinary norms or customs or practices or regulations or the like, in the future, other than those contained in this bull.”

del_button November 25, 2022 at 2:03 PM
Matthew said...

That is satire. Such a document does not exist.

del_button November 27, 2022 at 7:56 AM
Anonymous said...

Yet another reason why not to buy anything from Ignatius Press.

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