Talk:Fasting and abstinence in the Roman Catholic Church

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older entries[edit]

Cut and removed this table from the traditional days section. Rewrote and summarized as an example of one implementation of the "traditional" times of penance. Anyone have a reference that gives a time frame when this was actually the rule? Gimmetrow 18:28, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

That's according to the 1917 Code of Canon Law, although there's a few errors. Partial abstinence is on Ember Wednesdays and Saturdays only, while the fast on vigils was not anticipated (Canon 1252, "nor is the Vigil anticipated"). All Vigils except Christmas and Epiphany, until the 1955 reforms, were anticipated liturgically on the previous Saturday if they fell on Sunday, but the fast was not. It could have been before 1917, but I don't know the prior rules. PaulGS 04:20, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

Yes, the Vigils were anticipated on Sat under the decretal (before 1917 Code), which is why the code explicitly metnions that they are [i.e., no longer] anticipated. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:06, 13 December 2012 (UTC)


Complete abstinence[edit]

  • Every Friday, unless it be a holy day of obligation
  • Ash Wednesday
  • Holy Saturday until noon
  • December 24 (vigil of Christmas)
  • December 7 (vigil of Immaculate Conception; transferred to December 6 if the 7th should was a Sunday)

Partial abstinence[edit]

  • Ember Wednesdays and Saturdays
  • The vigil of Pentecost
  • The vigil of All Saints October 31; transferred to October 30 if the 31st should be a Sunday

Also cut this, which doesn't appear to correspond to any law at any time. Gimmetrow 18:28, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

The following are the modern days of fasting and abstinence in the church.

  • Ash Wednesday (fast & abstinence)
  • Every Friday of Lent (abstinence)
  • Good Friday (fast & abstinence)
  • Holy Saturday (fast & abstinence until noon)
  • December 24 (Christmas Eve) (abstinence - no longer followed in the western world).


I don't see any mention of the static references used here in any of the style guides, only to the occasional disputes over <references /> vs {{reflist}}. Using <ref> tags improves the usability of the page by making it easier for the reader to look up references (one of the many advantages Wikipedia has over more traditional publications) and keeps the references tidy: right now, the numbering is a mess. I don't see any advantage to using the format that's currently in place. What's wrong with the change? -- Vary | Talk 00:54, 25 December 2007 (UTC)

Harvard referencing is an acceptable system, and this is a form of Harvard referencing. Gimmetrow 01:11, 25 December 2007 (UTC)
No, it's not: at least it's not the form that's listed in our style guide. These are footnotes, they're just non-hyperlinked ones. -- Vary | Talk 01:14, 25 December 2007 (UTC)
So all you care about are backlinks? If you wish to argue the merits of Harvard referencing vs. footnotes, please do that at the appropriate guideline page. Gimmetrow 07:15, 25 December 2007 (UTC)
This now makes four different editors [1] [2] [3] [4] who have all wanted to convert the references to the most familiar style. Gimmetrow, you have made your WP:POINT, but now it's time to accept that consensus here is against you. You're right that Harvard referencing is an acceptable system, but you're wrong that this is a form of Harvard referencing. It isn't. I'll be happy to convert the refs to the Harvard system, but the version you keep edit-warring to revert to is just a confused mess. —Angr If you've written a quality article... 07:56, 25 December 2007 (UTC)
Don't put words in my mouth, please and thank you. As I said, and as Angr said, this is not about Harvard referencing. I'm not changing the citation system. I'm adding ref tags. If the article used unlinked Harvard style references, I'd be adding the Harvard referencing templates instead. I see nothing about hand typed footnote numbers in any of Wikipedia's style guides. -- Vary | Talk 13:51, 25 December 2007 (UTC)

User:Vary et al. don't you ever take a vacation? I don't have time to deal with this now, but I insist that you revert your disruptive edits. As an active content editor here, I do not want this text littered with citation templates, and I do not want this text using footnotes. Parenthetical citations are more appropriate to this article. Since there is no reason to convert one citation style to another, you have acted against policy and are asked to self-revert while you have the chance. And to both Angr and Vary, the citation style I was using is a form of parenthetic referencing, and not a form of footnotes. If you didn't know this at first, that's fine, but once you were told, you really should have had the intellectual humility to look it up. Gimmetrow 21:53, 25 December 2007 (UTC)

Those are not parenthetical references. They're numbers, with no other information, which refer the reader to a numbered item in a list at the bottom of the article. That's a footnote.
And I did look it up, thank you. I did so as soon as you told me that the article was using Harvard referencing, thinking that perhaps I was was misremembering. That's why I told you above that I didn't see your preferred format in the style guides - because I checked. This is not Harvard referencing as it is used here on Wikikpedia - or, as near as I can tell, anywhere else. As I understand it, the only time that a number alone is used in parenthetical referencing is when the author's name is included in the text of the passage - and then it's a year and/or page number, not a reference number. Further, the works cited list is always alphabetized (yours isn't), and never numbered (yours is). This may well be some obscure variation on Harvard referencing that I'm not aware of, but it's not the version that appears in Wikipedia's style manuals, and practically, it is indistinguishable from footnoting.
This isn't your article. In the few weeks since the article first acquired a reference section, four separate editors have come across it and tried to make this change. Four out of five editors all advocating the same change is not disruption, it's consensus. Add to that the fact that your preferred version does not even appear to be supported by the style guide, and I'd say that you are the one who's acting against policy. -- Vary | Talk 05:13, 26 December 2007 (UTC)
No, and neither is it your article. I can see absolutely no good reason to change from the previous system. I don't see cogent arguments for changing, anyway. I think it should be reinstated. Tony (talk) 13:12, 26 December 2007 (UTC)
The argument is that it was never in Harvard reference format to begin with. this is Harvard referencing (and thank you, Angr, for taking the trouble.) this is not.
But hopefully, now that someone's taken the time to convert the article to actual Harvard references, everyone's happy? -- Vary | Talk 13:46, 26 December 2007 (UTC)
Never? This is one version you removed, Vary. I don't like the silly Harvard templates, it seems like such shrubbery, but if it will get you to stop screwing with the citation system and do something useful, it's worth the inconvenience. Gimmetrow 19:02, 26 December 2007 (UTC)
Okay, it was never in correctly formatted Harvard references. In that revision you used ("Penitential") and ("Philip's") for references that should have been formatted as (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops 2001) and (Our Lady of Fatima Byzantine Catholic Church n.d.). And that revision, dated yesterday, was the first time anything even remotely resembling parenthetical referencing had shown up in the article. Before that it always used either proper ref tags (in fact, that was how the first reference was added to the article) or the hand typed footnotes which you've been insisting are a form of Harvard Referencing. So I don't see how I'm the one who's 'screwing with the citation system.'
And this is useful, for reasons I've already outlined. Those tags and templates are standard practice here because they improve the usability of articles for the reader. It's edit warring to remove useful tagging that's not productive. -- Vary | Talk 21:15, 26 December 2007 (UTC)
There's no reference tag or template whose use could be described as "standard", and imposing them unilaterally in the face of objections on the talk page is discouraged. See Wikipedia:Citation templates, second paragraph. Please come to a consensus before making such changes. Christopher Parham (talk) 02:53, 27 December 2007 (UTC)
Four people working towards the same change (hand typed footnote numbers to ref tags) with one dissenter isn't consensus? -- Vary | Talk 02:59, 27 December 2007 (UTC)
What makes you believe it is? Have the five of you hashed out the objections? I don't think the contributions made by others to the page itself really evince a preference either way. Christopher Parham (talk) 03:03, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

(deindent) This is the revision that Gimmetrow has been reverting to for a good month. I don't see anywhere in any style guide that says that hand-typed footnotes are an acceptable style. Gimmetrow has been playing this as a Harvard Referencing vs. Footnotes dispute. That's not what's happening here - those are not Harvard references. And the version that was most recently reverted to is incorrectly formatted, as well, as I mentioned below. -- Vary | Talk 03:12, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

In other words, up until very recently, Gimmetrow's only objection has been to say that this[1] is a Harvard reference and not a footnote, and that by converting those to ref tagged footnotes, we're changing citation systems. -- Vary | Talk 03:19, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

I'm not following the objections to parenthetical, Harvard-style references unencumbered by ref and note tags; Harvard-style refs which are only parentheticals are in use in many articles, and backlinks aren't required. I've restored the style established by the only people who have added citations to the article, although I did put last name first on the sources so they would better agree with the inline parentheticals. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 02:20, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

There are no objections to Harvard style references as such, but this is the style that Gimmetrow had been reverting to up until his edit of 7:13 December 25. Those are footnotes. The Harvard style wasn't 'established' until the 25th, and only after multiple editors had attempted to convert the hand-typed footnotes that were being used up until that point.
And, as I mentioned just above you, the references in the version you just restored are not correctly formatted. The ones in the version you just removed are. "Penetenial" and "Philips" refer to the names of the articles, not the authors (or in this case, the entities that published them), and in any case, the Wikipedia style guide specifies the author/date format where dates are available. -- Vary | Talk 02:49, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

Egads. What I used originally was a system of parenthetic referencing [1], which is a valid system [2], and yes, it is classified as a form of parenthetic referencing and not footnotes [3]. I really really wish someone who claims to have a graduate degree would make the effort to look this up after being told multiple times. (I guess at some point I'll need to write a wiki article on this citation system...) In any event, even if I was mistaken and this was really a form of footnotes, I was clearly and unambiguously calling it a parenthetic system and was objecting to the footnotes; surely the nicer approach would have been to implement your version of parenthetic citations?

So, after all the fuss, I went to author-page hoping you would be satisfied, but you reverted again, and then Angr went to author-date which was at least a parenthetic system. I've asked about this at Wikipedia_talk:Citing_sources#Clarification_on_author-page. I do hope you are aware, when the author is not straightforward, that it is OK to use the title in place of the author? If not, that's fine, but it would have been nicer had you tried to "clean up" the existing system rather than convert it to footnotes. Gimmetrow 03:21, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

I did look it up, as I already told you. Wikipedia's style guides only cover the author-date system. I don't see the format you used originally in any other style guide I've checked, either. As I said, I'm well aware that it's possible this is a variation that just isn't that common or didn't happen to be covered in the places I looked, but we do have style guides for a reason, and if you want that version of Harvard referencing to be adopted on Wikipedia, that's a discussion that needs to happen at WP:HARVARD.
And I was under the impression that when the author isn't listed, you're expected to use the complete name of the publication or the complete title, and not one word. Again, I'm looking at the Wikipedia style guides, as those are the ones that are most applicable here. -- Vary | Talk
I have no problem with Angr's version, and honestly was planning making the same change today when I had more time to fiddle with it, only to come back and find it had been done already. But the references currently in the article are still not in the Harvard format as it's outlined in Wikipedia's style guide. -- Vary | Talk 03:42, 27 December 2007 (UTC)
The citation style guides are not intended to document every acceptable style. Christopher Parham (talk) 03:55, 27 December 2007 (UTC)
I never said they were, but I already explained what I think is wrong with the current version. Is using one word from the title of an article with no listed author is a common practice? And what exactly is so wrong with linking templates, or with using the full author-date system? It's not as though any of these sources need the page numbers listed. -- Vary | Talk 04:15, 27 December 2007 (UTC)
True, the current cites don't need the page number listed, but they also don't need inline years. When additional paper sources are added, they will need page numbers, and so author-page will be most appropriate. Honestly, it seems like an obvious weakness of author-year that even editors familiar with it routinely cite books without providing a page number; that makes verification difficult.
You know, had you implemented author-date originally (especially without the harvard templates, or even with them if you would abbreviate) instead of footnotes, we wouldn't be here. It would have been close enough to what I was trying to do. When an article is going to be citing the same source a bunch of times (as appears the case here), articles with footnotes tend to end up with "short notes" that look suspiciously like a parenthetic reference in author-page form. You end up with a footnote jumping to a harvard-like ref jumping to a full reference. Straight parenthetics cut the jumps in half by pointing directly to the full ref, but they also disrupt the flow of the text to some degree. To this end [1], and likewise [2] are about ideal, where a one-jump parenthetic citation approaches the brevity of a footnote, and that's why I was using it. You don't want that particular form of citation, fine. Between author-date and author-page, I have a preference for author-page (because the citation includes page number at the point of the cite, and it can be omitted for websites) but either one is longer than "[3]".
But this is moot for now. I sent back the inter-library loans today. Maybe I'll write that article on the citation system you don't like. Gimmetrow 04:37, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

Thank you, SandyGeorgia, for making the article confusing and difficult to read. What an improvement! Now, the reader encounters the sentence "The Catholic practice of abstaining from meat popularized the Friday fish fry (Walkup)" and thinks, "Why would a Friday fish fry be called a walkup? I thought a walkup was the name for an apartment that didn't have an elevator. What a weird thing to call it." And then later the reader reads, "Current Roman Catholic law allows up to two small meals or snacks, known as "collations", to be taken as well ("Penitential")" and thinks, "Oh, the permission to eat two collations is called a 'penitential'. I didn't know that, and what a strange name for it." —Angr If you've written a quality article... 08:20, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

And "...popularized the Friday fish fry (Walkup 2003)" appears to be pushing a brand name, complete with wikilink. "...popularized the Friday fish fry [1]" doesn't seem to have this problem. Gimmetrow 09:49, 27 December 2007 (UTC)
What brand name? "...popularized the Friday fish fry [1]" has a different problem, namely that no one knows what it's supposed to be. It doesn't look like a footnote, since it has no wikilink, it just looks like a typo, some stray characters someone inserted by mistake. —Angr If you've written a quality article... 10:41, 27 December 2007 (UTC)
I think some journals would disagree with you on that. But if you prefer to advertise the Walkup 2003 super-duper fish fryer, go ahead. Gimmetrow 16:39, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
Obviously I meant it doesn't look like a footnote to readers of Wikipedia. Wikipedia, not being paper, is not laid out like a journal. And the format I would prefer is neither "fish fry [1]" nor "fish fry (Walkup 2003)", but rather "fish fry[1]", with the link taking you to the list of references at the bottom of the page and highlighting in blue the one you're looking for. You know, like virtually every good and featured article in this encyclopedia. —Angr If you've written a quality article... 17:11, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
Apples and oranges. Transitional and developed. This article isn't developed. The ref system and cite templates are a shrubbery and yet another obstacle to developing an article. I hope you have some awareness of the difficulty new editors have with these systems and the arcane syntax. Featured articles are mostly complete. People can add all sorts of shrubbery to them; although it still interferes with editing, featured articles shouldn't need a lot of editing. As for the backlinks, if you really wanted them, could do something like "fish fry [1]" (with a template of course). Gimmetrow 18:05, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
I don't understand your use of the word "shrubbery" which to me means "bushes". And I think even undeveloped articles should be written as if one were already aiming toward featured status. I think the <ref> </ref> citation system is not difficult at all for new editors to learn; in fact, it's easier than the other systems since it only requires the source information to be added once, at the place where it occurs in the text, rather than having to enter first the reference in the text and then the source information in the References section at the end. The citation system is not in the least an obstacle to developing an article; its syntax is hardly arcane ("put the source information in between the tags <ref> and </ref>" is not hard to grasp); and it doesn't interfere with editing. Your suggestion for self-made backlinks doesn't highlight the reference in blue for easy findability the way the ref tags do. —Angr If you've written a quality article... 19:33, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
"Shrubbery" refers to what the Knights who say Ni require of Arthur. Now, if you say above you must only add the source information once, you're referring to the form that looks has the full reference inline. That becomes unmanageable when the citation density gets to a certain point, and that's not even considering formatted citation templates which fill 5 lines. Surely you know how some experienced editors find that a mess; it's chaos to new editors. As for your last comment [1], see how it works... Gimmetrow 05:49, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
Example, Click on [1] above. Look, this becomes Blue  Gimmetrow 05:49, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
It sounds like you have a problem with the {{cite book}}, {{cite journal}}, {{cite web}} templates, then, not with the <ref> </ref> citation system. And your method of turning the ref blue is a lot more difficult since it again requires two additions: the number in the text, and the source info at the bottom of the page. —Angr If you've written a quality article... 09:20, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
The blue works exactly the same as the Harvard templates. And you get what you call "two additions" as soon as you go to short notes in ref tags and have a separate references section. At that point, the short notes are some form of parenthetical citation thrown in a ref tag so they're even one more step removed. Thus, the intent to use parenthetics to begin with. Gimmetrow 09:31, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
Right, the Harvard templates also require two additions. The Harvard templates are also only really suitable for books; though they can be made to work for websites, it's not very intuitive. Right now at least, this article only cites websites, and the easiest way to cite a website is to put it inline between <ref> and </ref> tags. You don't have to use the {{cite web}} template. (In fact, when I was helping bring Trembling Before G-d to featured status, someone actually objected to the FAC on the grounds that the article used the {{cite web}} template; once it was removed and the refs simplified, they voted in favor.) —Angr If you've written a quality article... 09:40, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
Most of the sources here would have been books. Gimmetrow 09:52, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
Would have been? If not for what? —Angr If you've written a quality article... 10:27, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

Whoever's responsible for the present system? This is a shambles. It's not Harvard referencing, nor is it anything else. I've just come by this article, and read the bit about "the Friday fish fry (Walkup)" exactly as Angr says above. WP:CITE shows the accepted citation methods, so for heaven's sake use one of them, I really couldn't care which, but the present one doesn't qualify – nor does Gimmetrow's preferred method. Vilĉjo (talk) 14:52, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

Pope "Fish Story"[edit]

Is it worth mentioning the "fish story" one often hears about fish being allowed for economic reasons, that the fish markets put pressure upon the Pope (the story never really specifies which Pope...) to make that exception? Personally, I've always seen it as hogwash. Given the longer periods of fasting and abstinence that used to be required, removing all protein was potentially harmful and the more exotic methods that avoided meat (oils and the like) were available only to the rich. Fish was chosen because a) they're cold-blooded creatures and b) fish was readily available to anyone with a net versus red meat and poultry which was often more restricted to the rich (old-style poaching laws and all). Every Lent, I have someone telling me that they "heard somewhere" the market pressure version and it would be nice to have a place to point them. -Fuzzy (talk) 16:16, 17 March 2008 (UTC)


Is it true that Catholics were allowed to eat the breast of a duck on Fridays etc.? The reasoning being that the lower part of the duck spent much of its time in water and so could be classified as fish. Its something I heard a long time ago, but it may be apocryphal. Myrvin (talk) 12:51, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

I'm not sure, but people did certainly consider the "fish-like" aquatic mammals such as seals to be fish. There were some stranger exception such as beavers ( and capybara (no source) but it makes some sense if you've got obviously mammalian creatures excluded from the fasting rule. I think you'll find there is no church ruling on most of it because no one bothered asking them and they didn't strongly object. Nitwit005 (talk) 04:41, 23 December 2010 (UTC)

There is no historical basis to say portions of an animals were exempt because they happened to eb in water, though some aniimals were considered permissible in some locales but not in others. This is not because no one cared to ask but because laws of fast and abstinence were based first on custom and seconardily on diocesan decrees. In 1917 the regulations became much more central, which they had tended toward since the time of Trent, anyway, with Roman Congregations settling legal questions the world over in every aspect of Church life. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:13, 13 December 2012 (UTC)

United States[edit]

There is an unsourced comment "The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is proposing in the very near future to re-introduce the required abstinence from meat on every Friday of the year, along with fasting and abstinence on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, the Fridays of Lent, the Ember Days, the Rogation Days, the Fridays and Saturdays of Advent, and the vigils observed on the Saturday before Pentecost, August 14 (the vigil of the Assumption, October 31 (the vigil of All Saints), December 7 (the vigil of the Immaculate Conception, and December 24 (Christmas Eve).[citation needed]"

Does anyone know if this is true? If so, where did you hear it? To be completely honest, I think that would be a very excessive number of days of fast and abstinence. With people leaving the church, it seems unlikely that they'd want to introduce a significant burden. Ember and Rogation Days are especially surprising, since they aren't even observed in our current calendar. Also, I've never heard of Saturdays during Advent ever being a day of fast or abstinence at any time in the past. Christmas Eve is also surprising. I realize that was a day of fast in the past, but nowadays, it's a big day for celebration and a big meal. (talk) 03:42, 21 February 2013 (UTC)

This whole section seems to be mostly uncited or a strange reading of what the references actually say. I have removed the speculative, uncited part mentioned above, and I am trying to rewrite the rest to follow what the references say. Myrvin (talk) 13:56, 21 February 2013 (UTC)


The Summary at the top of this page strikes me as particularly bad. It goes into detail about what it is assumed the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter is going to do (with no reference to the P/O of Our Lady of Walsingham), which seems out of place, in the summary at least. It also says the "pre-vatican II practice of abstaining from meat on fridays" which is odd given that the article goes on to give details that both in the England&Wales and US Bishops' Conferences this is the current practice (and my own experience, but of course that doesn't count).

I got this impression after reading the Summary, and I've only glanced over the rest of the article, but even that looks like it could do with some restructuring. I don't really know where to start or what structure to propose, but I wanted to flag this article for some serious work. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:23, 12 March 2014 (UTC)

  1. ^ Walkup 2003