Catholics urged to give up meat

Catholics have been urged to give up meat or another favourite food on Fridays as an act of Lenten penance.

The Most Rev Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and leader of Catholics in England and Wales, said every Friday during the 40-day period of Lent should be marked by the faithful with an act of self-denial.

"The ancient tradition of the Church is that we do not eat meat on these Fridays," he said in a Lenten pastoral letter to Catholics. "Let us take up again the practice of abstaining from meat, or another favourite part of our diet, on the Fridays of Lent."

Lent starts on Ash Wednesday next week, traditionally a time of penitence for Christians in preparation for Easter.