When one thinks about Catholicism, one does not consider chocolate to ever be part of the discussion, so why can't Catholics eat chocolate? Let's find out.
Chocolate plays a big part in Christian festivities, from Easter eggs to Christmas cakes and chocolate bunnies; any Christian religious holiday isn't complete without some form of chocolate treat. But, there are times when chocolate is strictly prohibited in Catholicism.
Contrary to popular belief, Catholics can consume chocolate normally. However, Catholics do not eat chocolate during the month of lent. Chocolate is among the foods that Catholics avoid during the month of Lent in order to unite themselves more closely to Jesus in the desert.
Chocolate has had a rich history and has been involved in many religious customs and ritualistic practices. We have discussed why can't Catholics eat chocolate with religious experts. Here, we will take a look at why Catholics were once prohibited from consuming chocolate.
If you are a Catholic, then you may be at odds with the no chocolate rule. However, we've asked the experts, and the good news is that eating this sinfully delicious treat is no longer deemed a mortal sin in Catholicism.
Why Can't Catholics Eat Chocolate?
To find out why the Catholic Church has historically conflicted with chocolate, you will first need to understand when it all began. Although Christopher Columbus was the first European to view and taste chocolate, Hernando Cortez, a Spanish explorer, was the one who brought it to Europe in the year 1519. Cacao and chocolate had important roles in Aztec and Mayan religion, commerce, and social life when the Spanish arrived in Mesoamerica.
Despite the Spaniards' initial dislike for the beverage and its relationship with the Aztec civilization's strength and polytheism, it thrived in both symbolic and material capacities, maybe even expanding in significance following the arrival of the Europeans.
Chocolate's prominence in Aztec sacred tradition and its mystical abilities of curing and mind-altering made it a troublesome emblem for Catholic Spaniards coming into the New World, sometimes standing in contrast to a Catholic worldview.
The fact that the plant itself was shown as a God in artwork showed that it was valued much beyond that of other commodities and consumables at the time. Also, the Aztecs believed that the God of chocolate was Quetzalcoatl, who they believed was condemned by other gods for sharing chocolate with humans.
Chocolate was a source of contention for Catholic missionaries in the New World in two ways: first, in their examination of its position in their religious tradition, and second, in their worry about its symbolic potency among the Indians. In many respects, chocolate was an unknown quantity to the Europeans who arrived in the New World, and as a result, there was a heated dispute about its position in Catholic fasting rites.
The Catholic Problem
A fast was defined at the time of this argument as abstaining from eating or drinking anything between midnight and Holy Communion, except for drinking to quench thirst if the liquid did not give any sustenance. The key debate was whether chocolate was a liquid or a solid because cacao may be processed in various ways and take on both solid and liquid forms.
If chocolate were considered a meal or a solid, eating it during a fasting period would be considered a serious offense. The debate became even more complicated because of the different nutritious substances that may be added to chocolate, including maize.
In 1662, Cardinal Francisco Maria Brancaccio of the Vatican broke the deadlock by declaring: Beverages do not break the act of fasting since wine, being so nourishing, does not break it. The same may be said about cacao drinks. Fasting is not a divine rule; thus, it is susceptible to alteration, and it should be adjusted to accommodate the good chocolate beverage, according to Italian Francesco Maria Brancaccio in 1664. Fortunately, eating chocolate was not considered a grave sin or a violation of the ecclesiastical fast.
Lent is designed to reflect Christ's sacrifice, but it also serves as a somber period of prayer for Him. As a result, a Lenten sacrifice is believed to be something that allows you to connect with God more easily. Keeping that in mind, sugar does not fit the qualifications for a Lenten commitment, no matter how many Christians give up chocolate for 40 days.
In today's world, there is still some debate on whether or not to eat chocolate. Chocolate, for example, has been dubbed "devil's food" over the years, and some argue that it is linked to one of the Seven Deadly Sins: gluttony. People have an intense craving for chocolate and consume a lot of it. Chocolate is connected with Satan because it invites temptation. Chocolate is also viewed as sensuous and hence part of lust, another sine. That said, Easter, a Christian and Catholic celebration of Christ's resurrection, is frequently marked by the consumption of chocolate.
About THE AUTHOR
Lori has been a Culinary Arts instructor for twenty years. She has taught in the public school setting, at the collegiate level and through adult continuing education as well as running several cooking and baking camps for children. She has participated in several cooking, cake & chocolate contests and has been well recognized. She has raised thousands of dollars for charities using the byline “Saving the World one Cupcake at a Time”. Additionally, she has had several articles regarding food published in various magazines.Read More About Lori Gilmore