Catholics looking for new sources of protein to eat during Lenten Fridays may consider this good news. The national bishops’ conference says alligator is permissible, according to the Catholic News Agency (CNA).
Catholics over the age of 14 are prohibited from eating meat on Fridays during Lent, but are allowed seafood.
Following a question from a parishoner, New Orleans Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond wrote, “Concerning the question if alligator is acceptable to eat during the Lenten season...yes, the alligator is considered in the fish family.” Aymond wrote the letter in 2010, but it was just provided to the CNA last month.
The archbishop said he agreed with the parishioner that the alligator is a “magnificent creature that is important to the state of Louisiana” and which is also “considered seafood.”
Aymond’s approval has since been backed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, whose website post on “Lent and Lenten Practices” explains the rationale behind Archbishop Aymond's declaration: “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.”
That clarification opens the door for Catholics to also consume turtles, snakes, lizards, frogs and other reptiles during Lent.