Fr F.E. Burns (March AD2000) writes "Having long abandoned the no-meat-on-Fridays precept, the Church calls on us to nominate our own acts of self-denial". For those of us trying to counter the modern privatisation and personal customisation of Catholic religious practice, this has been a disappointing development.
While abstinence from meat on Fridays is still Church law (see Canon 1251), Canon 1253 allows episcopal conferences to determine substitutes for this requirement such as "works of charity or exercises of piety." However, few Catholics seem aware of this.
It behoves us to keep reminding our fellow Catholics of this requirement, all the while providing good example.
Napier, New Zealand