MANILA — The Archdiocese of Manila has exempted anew Filipino-Chinese and Chinese Catholics from the obligation of abstinence on Friday, February 16, Chinese New Year.
The 40-day Lenten Season of the Catholic Church will start on February 14, Ash Wednesday.
“In view of the celebration of the Chinese New Year, it’s cultural and spiritual importance, and the traditional practices associated with it, we, therefore, grant dispensation from the Lenten discipline of abstinence to our Chinese-Filipino and Chinese Catholics in the Archdiocese of Manila and their guests on February 16, 2018,” read Circular No. 2018-01 dated January 19, 2018, signed by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle.
But the head of the Archdiocese of Manila reminded those who would avail of the dispensation to engage in some form of penance, acts of mercy, or charity, particularly to the less fortunate and people who are suffering.
Tagle said this is “in keeping with the penitential spirit of the season of Lent.”
According to the Canon law of the Roman Catholic Church, a dispensation is an exemption from the immediate obligation in certain cases.
In 2015, the archdiocese also granted Filipino-Chinese and Chinese Catholics in its episcopal jurisdiction exemption or dispensation from the obligation of fasting and abstinence on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 18, which then fell on the eve of the Chinese New Year.
On Ash Wednesday, priests or lay ministers mark the faithful’s foreheads with the sign of the cross, using ashes made from burnt palms that were blessed on the previous year’s Palm Sunday.