By Gina Christian
(OSV News) — “Nothing should take precedence” over Good Friday — and that includes the baseball team’s home opener, said Bishop David A. Zubik of Pittsburgh in an April 5 statement shared after the diocese had received inquiries about a possible dispensation from the fasting and abstinence that is integral to the solemn day.
Several MLB teams have scheduled or rescheduled their home opener games for April 7, among them the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Minnesota Twins and the San Francisco Giants.
“For Catholics, Good Friday is unlike any other Friday of the year” since “it is the day that Jesus hung on the cross, paving the way for our salvation,” said Bishop Zubik.
In response, “fasting and abstinence (are) part of what we practice communally that day, out of respect, reverence and deep gratitude for God’s sacrifice and love,” he said.
Bishop Zubik stressed the “need to hold to the priority importance of Good Friday. It is an essential part of the most sacred time of year for all Christians.”
The inquiries may have got their start on social media, where Pirates fan Nick Bowers tagged Bishop Zubik on Twitter, asking whether “we get a meat exemption (to) enjoy a hot dog” or a sandwich from Primanti Brothers, a regional chain that describes itself on its website as the “World Sandwich Headquarters.”
Twitter user Kevin Hart anticipated the question, joking that he could “just imagine yinzers” — a slang term for Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania residents — “calling the diocese/priest and asking if they can break the practices because it’s Pirates Opening Day, expecting an answer other than ‘no.’
“It makes me chuckle,” he added.
Despite the lack of dispensation, Bishop Zubik had nothing but support for the Bucs as they begin their 2023 season at PNC Park. “We wish the Pirates well, and we will be rooting for them with all of Pittsburgh,” he said.