Say that a person has a history of eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia. Are they excused from obligatory Roman Catholic fasts like those on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday? I've heard of exceptions for physically demanding jobs or current illness, but not this.

Given that regulations for fasting are adopted per nation, I'd like an answer for the United States, although other nations would be useful supplementary information.

1 Answer 1


From a Question and answer page from the United States conference of Catholic Bishops:

Q. Are there exemptions other than for age from the requirement to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday?

A. Those that are excused from fast and abstinence outside the age limits include the physically or mentally ill including individuals suffering from chronic illnesses such as diabetes. Also excluded are pregnant or nursing women. In all cases, common sense should prevail, and ill persons should not further jeopardize their health by fasting.

I know of no one that would not consider fasting to be risky for someone with an eating disorder. Those who will jeopardize their mental or physical health by fasting are exempt.

  • 3
    Back in the day, we were told to ask our pastor if their was any doubt about such situations.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Feb 27, 2018 at 12:30
  • 1
    This may be splitting hairs, but does this advice appliy to both the currently ill and the healthy who are likely to become ill from lack of food? Commented Feb 27, 2018 at 14:19
  • 1
    @Thunderforge I would guess so, if pregnant women are included. A pregnant woman can be perfectly healthy but still except, due to the lack of food having a potentially negative effect on her and/or the child.
    – aska123
    Commented Feb 27, 2018 at 16:04

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .