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Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley has waived the requirement for Catholics to abstain from meat on Fridays for the remainder of Lent, which ends April 8, the Archdiocese of Boston said in a letter sent to parishes Thursday.

A shortage of some groceries and other hardships related to the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the Cardinal to suspend the Lenten practice, Bishop Peter J. Uglietto, vicar general of the archdiocese, said in the letter.

“Many people are using what they have stored in their freezers and on their shelves. Others are depending upon pre-packaged meals or food delivered through support agencies, “ Uglietto said.

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But O’Malley also encourages those who can continue the Lenten tradition of abstention “ to do so and to offer it up for those who are suffering in any way from the pandemic we are experiencing,” Uglietto wrote.

The suspension of the Lenten requirement is the latest step O’Malley has taken in response to the coronavirus crisis. All Masses and other religious gatherings have been temporarily suspended in the archdiocese.

Stephanie Purifoy can be reached at stephanie.purifoy@globe.com