“For the most part, I think people understand it’s really why we are who we are as a Catholic family and that’s to observe some of the traditions of the church,” Wharton said.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE‘Mame,’ ‘Hello, Dolly!’ composer Jerry Herman dies at 88 The connection between Ireland and corned beef dates to colonial times in Boston, when meat was imported from Ireland and then preserved in salt, said Kevin O’Neill, history professor in the Irish Studies program at Boston College. The result – corned beef – was associated with Ireland. While eating meat on a Friday in Lent isn’t considered a mortal sin – the gravest category – it does take a dispensation for the church to lift the rule. At least 67 of the country’s nearly 200 dioceses provide such dispensations, said Rocco Palmo, a Catholic commentator who has been keeping an informal count on his blog “Whispers in the Loggia.” Each local bishop has the authority to allow Catholics in his diocese to forgo the traditional abstention of meat on Fridays or other rules of Lent, said Bill Ryan, spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Typically, bishops will determine if there’s a need, he said, such as having a large Irish population. Bishop R. Walker Nickless of Sioux City, Iowa, has opted to not grant a dispensation to the 100,000 Catholics in his diocese. Many parishes moved their St. Patrick’s Day celebrations to either Thursday or Saturday, said Jim Wharton, spokesman for the Sioux City Diocese. That allows them to go ahead with their Lenten fish fry events – a Friday staple that typically yields money for school or parish projects, he said. Not one Catholic in the diocese has called him wondering why dispensation wasn’t granted, he said. Roman Catholics in Los Angeles and other major U.S. cities won’t have to choose between sinning and nibbling if they want to enjoy a plate of corned beef-and-cabbage this St. Patrick’s Day. Cardinal Roger Mahony and church officials in other American cities have granted a special one-day dispensation to break the rules of the holy season of Lent, which prohibit Catholics from eating meat on Fridays to observe the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. “Since St. Patrick is the co-patron of the archdiocese, he is dispensing from the Lenten Friday abstinence of meat on St. Patrick’s Day,” according to a statement from Mahony’s office. “It is suggested that Catholics who make use of this dispensation select another day during the Lenten journey to abstain or select another Lenten practice to compensate for making use of this dispensation.” The last time St. Patrick’s Day fell on a Friday during Lent was 2000 and many bishops then offered the same deal. The Archdiocese of New York has always extended a dispensation when the calendar lined up because St. Patrick is the patron saint of the archdiocese, spokesman Joseph Zwilling said.