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Photo: Laura Lezza/Getty Images

Catholic bishops around the U.S. are telling worshipers it's alright to eat meat on Fridays during Lent as the coronavirus has forced Americans to give up so much already.

The big picture: The global coronavirus pandemic has forced the hands of many religions and their institutions. Many religious leaders ordered the cancellations of mass prayers across the world.

The state of play:

  • Bishop James F. Checchio, who leads a diocese in New Jersey, announced on Thursday: "Given the difficulties of obtaining some types of food and the many other sacrifices which are suddenly experiencing given the coronavirus, I have granted a dispensation from abstaining from meat on Fridays for rest of Lent, except Good Friday which is a universal law."
  • Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio told worshipers in Brooklyn the change comes at this time "to assist people who may have difficulties in shopping for food or other reasons which would make this practice difficult at this time."
  • Bishop Shelton J. Fabre in Louisiana wrote the pandemic has made it difficult for some to find groceries and "make it clearly difficult for them to fulfill this practice."

Go deeper

41 mins ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.