Once again, someone wrote to ask me if it is okay to eat alligator on Friday during Lent.
Is this a put on? Is this a joke?
Of course it’s okay to eat alligator! And crocodile, if you have some.
A couple years ago I posted this crystal clear answer, which I thought would have resolved this question once and for all.
Cliff Notes Version: The answer is “yes”. You may eat alligator during Lent.
QUAERITUR: Abstinentia de carne lacertina aut crocodrillina
Reverendo patro Ioanni Zuhlsdorfo discipulus C. salutem et commemorationem in precibus suis. Gratias meas, sivis, ob opum tuam tibi agere volo. [Acceptae.] Mihi, catholico iuveni et discipulo in collegio liberalum artis et liberalum (aut impudicarum) mentum, scripturae tuae magnam auxilium fuerunt. Mox Ludovicianam meabo. Quaeritur: Sineturne corpus alligatoris feria VI in Quadregesima sine violando abstinentiam Quadragesimae edere?
My perfectly clear response follows:
Ossificatus manualista impoenitens respondeo de paginis Compendii Theologiae Moralis (Sabetti-Barrett) n. 331, :
Nomine carnis veniunt omnia animalia in terra viventia ac respirantia, ut communiter admittunt theologi ex regula tradita a S. Thoma vel, ut S. Alphonsus innuit, n. 1011, animalia quae sanguinem habent calidum; vel illud quod consuetudo regionis ut carnem habet; vel, si nec consuetudo praesto sit, dubium solvi potest considerando mentem Ecclesiae in sanciendo delectu ciborum, ut comprimendae ac minuendae carnis concupiscentiae per salutarem abstinetiam consuleret; examinetur, an huiusmodi animal simile sit aut dissimile iis quorum esus interdictus est et an illius carnes humano corpori validius nutriendo et roborando idoneae dignoscantur; et si ita appareat, ista caro inter vetitas est ponenda. Benedict XIV., De syn. dioec., lib.11, c. 5, n. 12. Haec quatuor multum deservient omni dubitationi solvendae.
Crocodrilli et lacertae inter reptilia sunt et amphibia.
Edi ergo possunt feriis sextis et tempore Quadragesimae.
Omnibus tamen diebus ab eis edimur.
So, there you have it.
You can eat alligator and crocodile on Fridays of Lent.
I sought and obtained more information about the claim made in the comments, below, about permission to eat muskrat in the Archdiocese of Detroit. Here is the edited version, from my Detroit source:
Ah yes, the famous muskrat indult. At the behest of ___, I actually did some digging, and could find no evidence that permission for muskrat had ever been given either by the bishop of Detroit, the Archbishop of Cincinnati (our former metropolitan) or Baltimore, or Quebec. I suggested that someone be sent over to pore through the files of Propaganda (and offered to do it myself, if the archdiocese would fund the trip). I did, however, find an article in the Michigan Catholic from the mid 1940′s, wherein a priest spoke of doing his own investigation back then. He also failed to find any indult, but noted that the meals had been served on Fridays in Lent as long as the oldest parishioners in those parishes could recall. I said to ____ in my memo that, if it was an immemorial custom in 1946, it was certainly immemorial now.
I’ve never tasted muskrat, but have been told that it has the taste of a dirty dishrag and the consistency of very old, thick asparagus.
So, there you have it, again.
Immemorial custom. Chow down.