In the more than 10 years of his Pontificate, Pope Francis has given lots of advice to help Catholics live their faith.

Due to his informal style and sense of humor, his quotes and writings have become popular memes on social media.

However, many publications attribute messages to him that he has never actually said or written.

The facts: At the beginning of Lent 2024, a message again went viral on social media saying that the Pope proposed replacing the traditional fast established by the Church for Catholics with other "fasts." 

Well-known influencers, and even some Catholic profiles, publish lists of alternatives to replace Lenten fasting, attributing it to Pope Francis:  

Fast from hurting words and say kind words.
Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.
Fast from anger and be filled with patience.
Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope.
Fast from worries and have trust in God.
Fast from complaints; contemplate simplicity.
Fast from pressures and be prayerful.
Fast from bitterness; fill your hearts with joy.
Fast from selfishness and be compassionate.
Fast from grudges and be reconciled.
Fast from words; be silent and listen.

What we know: Those who share this advice associate it with Pope Francis' message for Lent 2015. However, the original text does not include this.

ACI Prensa said in an updated 2024 article that an initial version of the list of “fasts” can be found on the Catoliscopio website dated March 2009. Therefore, the text circulated on the Internet for at least four years before Pope Francis was elected pontiff.

Here's the initial text:

Free from judging others; Fill yourself with the Christ who lives in them.
Fast from hurtful words; Fill yourself with phrases that purify.
Fasting from discontent; Fill yourself with gratitude.
Fast from anger; fill yourself with patience.
Fast from pessimism; Fill yourself with optimism.
Fasting from worries; Fill yourself with trust in God.
Fast from complaining; Fill yourself with appreciating what surrounds you.
Fast from the pressures that do not cease; Fill yourself with a prayer that never stops.
Fast from bitterness; fill yourself with forgiveness.
Fast from the importance of yourself; Fill yourself with compassion for others.
Fasting from personal anxiety; Fill yourself with eternal hope in Christ crucified.
Fast from discouragement; fill yourself with hope.

The verdict: Pope Francis has not replaced the Lenten fast and he is not the author of these texts.

The Code of Canon Law of the Catholic Church says:

"Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday." (Can. 1251)

Don't let the messages you find on social media fool you. Fasting and abstinence are penitential means that help us prepare to live the mysteries of the Passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

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