From a reader…
I saw from NOAA today that they discovered a species of moonfish which is “the first fully warm-blooded fish that circulates heated blood throughout its body much like mammals and birds.” HERE
Since in your wonderful post about eating alligators during Lent you cited the Compendii Theologiae Moralis which interprets the prohibition against meat on Fridays as “animalia quae sanguinem habent calidum,” would this be the first example of a fish which is impermissible to eat on Fridays (in Lent, if we must sadly clarify such.)
Open up your handy copy of the Code of Canon Law, and let’s do some digging.
Canon 1251 tells us that “abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference is to be observed on all Fridays…” Canon 17 tells us that
“Ecclesiastical laws are to be understood according to the proper meaning of the words considered in their text and context. If the meaning remains doubtful or obscure, there must be recourse to parallel places, if there be any, to the purpose and circumstances of the law, and to the mind of the legislator.”
Canon 19, a bit further, states that if there is not a specific provision in the law, we can have recourse to the “common and constant opinion of learned authors.”
Well, the proper meaning of the words of canon 1251 exclude the eating of “meat” on Fridays (unless, as in the United States, the bishops have – sadly – allowed the faithful to substitute some other penance on their own determination).
“Meat” is commonly understood to be the flesh of mammals, reptiles and fowl.
“Fish” is commonly not understood to be “meat.”
There has been some controversy over the years about those unusual circumstances of mammals and reptiles who live primarily or exclusively in the water. In many cases, dispensations have been granted to permit their consumption on days of abstinence (capybara in South America, the infamous “muskrat dispensation” in some towns along the Detroit River, which has never been found in written format, but which has been appealed to since time immemorial, granting it at least the status of a legitimate custom (canon 26). Other provisions have been made for including cold-blooded reptiles in the “eatable” category, as with our friend, the tasty alligator!
Here, for the first time, we encounter something novel: a critter which is taxonomically considered a fish, but which is warm-blooded.
We have no real recourse to parallel places, because this seems to be a novelty. What is to be done with this critter, which I suggest ought to be named:
“The Magical Friday Bacon-Fish” ?
Utilizing the principle from the Regulae Iuris 15 – “Odia restringi et favores convenit ampliari,” I think that, until the Holy See makes a determination, we munch on this warm-blooded moonfish with great zest and zeal (and perhaps capers and a soy marinade) every Friday that we possibly can, thanking the Good Lord for His bounty and provision athough mindful of His Sorrowful but Necessary Passion.
Edent pauperes et saturabuntur!