The Fish on Friday Fraud


I’ve heard this just about every lent since becoming Catholic.

At work on the first Friday of Lent someone, nominally Catholic I believe, stated how the Church forbade meat and encouraged the eating of fish on Fridays only because some Pope had a cousin or something with a corner on the seafood market… or something to that extant.

Has anyone else ever heard this? Does anyone know the source or how this got started? It’s ridiculous on it’s face to me, but as I’ve heard it so often it’s apparently gotten around.

Can anyone help with the real story of when the Church specifically began to prohibit consumption of meat on Fridays?



From the beginning of Christianity, Fridays were a day of abstinence from meat. Here’s a bit of info on the subject of abstinence.

The story you heard sounds like anti-papacy bunk to me. I’ve never heard it before.


Tell them to prove it. :mad: If they are going to make such remarks about someone’s Faith, then they need to be prepared to prove it. Don’t stand by and let it just be said so someone else can repeat the error. The burden of truth is not on you - it is in the person making the claim.



In the days before refrigeration, it wasn’t possible to have a monopoly on fishing – it would spoil before it reached more than the local market.


I’ve heard it before, along with a really great argument against it, which I have since forgotten.

But, yeah - it’s on Boettner’s list (the famous anti-Catholic who made a list of lies about the Catholic Church and published it in a book called Roman Catholicism - it seems to be on the required reading list for certain fringe elements of the Evangelical movement) - and it’s not really true.


If they can’t give you the name of the Pope and the year, there’s simply nothing there and you shouldn’t dignify this kind of nonsense with five seconds’ attention.

The fasting rules were once much stricter–I know that much. All animal products were forbidden–but not fish. On the other hand, the Eastern Church does ban fish (but not shellfish) on certain strict fasting days.



Same here! :o I think I must have either read about it in Karl Keating’s Catholicism and Fundamentalism or Patrick Madrid’s Pope Fiction. :shrug: I’ll have to go check! :slight_smile:


Yes, I’ve heard this before-- but not in “real life” only on the boards.

If I ever did encounter something so ridiculous I would just make a comment like, “Wow, you are quite gullible” and walk off. And, I’d be ready with the facts in case that statement alone didn’t shame them into some introspection.

The Didache, written in the first century, outlines such things as days of fast and abstinence.


Jimmy Akin handled this well a few years back:

Bookmark for use every lent. :wink:


You mean the practice wasn’t originated by a Cardinal who owned a peanut butter factory?


I always thought that it was because some fifth century Pope had a bad experience on a fishing trip…and wanted sweet revenge! :slight_smile:

You folks have ruined my conspiracy theory. Thanks for nuthin!



If you want a nice story about why American bishops made only Fridays during Lent meatless, here’s one I heard years ago, I believe by a teacher. At a Catholic school (which means nothing since this was way back in the late 80s and I was just a kid). Now I know it itsn’t true but it is kind of amusing.:smiley:

Since Catholics couldn’t eat meat on Fridays, they ate only fish. Restaurants caught on that since Catholics couldn’t eat meat, they could make a fortune off of fish dinners on Fridays. So the bishops made only Lenten Fridays days of abstinence since so many Catholics were going out to eat and spending too much money. They didn’t want Catholics going out to eat on Fridays. They needed to stay home. Doing what I don’t know but apparently eating out was something bishops didn’t want anyone to do.


At work on the first Friday of Lent someone, nominally Catholic I believe, stated how the Church forbade meat and encouraged the eating of fish on Fridays only because some Pope had a cousin or something with a corner on the seafood market… or something to that extant**

Actually, eating fish on fast days is a RELAXATION of the ancient discipline, still preserved in the Eastern Churches (both those in union with Rome and those not) which forbids fish, eggs, and daily AS WELL AS MEAT on Wednesday, Friday, and other fasting periods.


:bounce: Oh, God Bless you, Jim! That’s the best thing I’ve read in weeks! :bounce:

Consider that line stolen, now, though. LOL



If anyone wants true lenten trivia, consider the following:

The fish sandwich found at most fast food places is due to lent. When McDonalds owner Ray Kroc saw his friday hamburger sales dropping during lent, he discovered it was due to Catholics abstention from meat. He made a fish sandwich to grab that market, and many others later followed suit.

The pretzel exists because some German monks, who would follow a very strict lenten diet, made up some little wheat snacks (no yeast allowed). The crossing of the “arms” in the middle of the pretzel signifies the old style of praying by crossing your arms on your chest. The latin word for “arms”, bracellae, morphed into the german and became “pretzel”.

The pre-Lenten celebration of Carnivale is due to everyone having to eat their meats and dairy products because they would otherwise spoil before Easter. “Carne” is Latin for meat, “Vale” is Latin for goodbye.


I was taught at the University of Massachusetts that Catholics eat fish on Fridays because the Church controls the fishing industry.

Too bad, I thought my degree in history was legitimate.

Whenever I get guff about this or that… I always prepare the way ahead of time with co-workers. I tell them I try not to take a breakfast or lunchfrom Friday through Sunday after Mass, restricting myself from flesh, fish, eggs, dairy products, alcohol, and sweets as long as there is abortion in America; hospitality notwithstanding, since that would deny two graces: one chance to accept a gift, and one chance to allow someone to give. Moreover, it seems to prepare my soul for conversation. So, I avoid eatting until after morning prayer if at all possible.

During Lent I do that for the whole kit-and-kaboodle. I’ve discovered a side benefit of excellent health. I have a soft spot for fritto misto, my homemade Italian sausages, and I do fair share of butchering and meat cutting, on top of that I’m a microbrewer — you get the picture. I basically have so much food and drink it’s coming out of my ears. That makes it easy to resist.

The hitch on this stuff is a solemnity of good old feast day like St. Joseph. In which case a zeppola is in order… That’s sounds good. I’ma gonna go roll some anchovies in batter and fry them.

I remember in highschool a bishop asked us to refrain from meat as long as there was abortion in America. I think it might have been a command. Not sure. Oh well, it’ll make St. Benedict proud.

Oh yeah, and say prayers for OCP and GIA. They’re full of heretics. And, ask your pastors to not order from their catalogues in the future.


I’ll be over at about 4:30pm on Easter Monday. :thumbsup:


Word, dude. You rock. Thanks for the info!


This little tid bit of untruth was presented as fact at my RCIA class by the instructor, just last Sunday. I started to say something, but then the words of my wise wife echoed in my head, “Paul, for once in your life, keep your mouth shut and maybe you won’t end up with people angry at you.”

She’s still a little peeved that I was asked to not come back to the previous RCIA over my insistence that not, “All religions are basically the same and they all teach the way to heaven,” and we had to switch parishes.



First and Foremost: Fasting from meat all of Lent is awesome awesome awesome blessing. It just imparts so much grace. It opens you to the mystical prayer we are meant to have with the Almighty.

Paul, I don’t nuthin’bout ya’ but good deal and congrats on the RCIA process… That’s a huge leap. Check it out though. I probably don’t have to tell you… since you seemed to figure it out on your own that an awful lot of people are sorta’ relativistic. And clearly you have a good head on your shoulders. The Holy Spirit must have already given you a gumption (is the correct word ‘a charism’) for telling how it is. All religions do not teach the way to heaven. All religions teach some element of truth – an enevitability in that all that God has created will bear his signature in way or another. If you honestly were asked not to come back to an RCIA class please contact the parish priest where that RCIA class was done. Let him know that you are contacting the diocesean seat (the bishop’s office) over it. The RCIA instructor might is possibly not be well catechized. Then the lack of training can be addressed. If the instructor had been catechized well then it’s a case of them being just plain evil. I use strong words don’t be put off by it. But, please consider my language as it is meant to reflect a fact that someone does not want you to recieve a greater fullness of truth via the sacraments. I don’t know if you know it, but the bishop of a diocese is the only person actually allowed to ‘teach the faith’. Now, he can delegate this authority so to speak if he allows qualified men and women who have been formed. They are given a teachers license kind of thing. Sometimes there are religion teachers that end up having their priveledge to teach revoked.

As a side note. Take much of what you see on this discussion board with a grain of salt. Everytime you see something on here look it up in the catechism. If fact just read the Catechism everyday. Just a little bit, a page or two and look up the bible quote, church document quote, or church father, etc when you get the chance. Never stop reading. Everytime you learn something good you are learning more about God. Then get a feel by interviewing a few people who seem well versed in the faith. about what you read in the Catechism or what have you. If you think they are wrong tell them so and why. This will let you double check them. Over time you’ll develop a feel for who is in the know, who’s trying, or who might just plain need to here the good news, etc. If you do this, after a few years you’ll be even more confident than you seem like you already are to re-evangelize my Catholic brothers and sisters. Converts like you are great for the faith. You revitalize us. Learn as much Catholic jargon as you can. If you are coming over from my little brother Christian denominations of evangelicals, protestants, and dooms day cults, then you will end up bilingual in a manner of speaking. You might have noticed many words and expressions are not used by every faith.

My last piece of advice is listen to Father John Corapi! That is huge. You can’t trust every priest (in much the same way as Judas betrayed Jesus). Evil lurks behind every corner waiting to trip your good deeds. John Corapi is someone who I feel we can trust 99% of the time. He’s afraid of losing his immortal soul. And, so, he sticks to the game plan. Also, watch Father Benedict Groschel. The guys practically a saint. Study up on movers and groovers in the faith, learn who is trusted with what positions of authority in the faith. Read up on a bishop or cardinal once a month or whatever. When you find someone who impresses you, write them a letter. To start with, write a random letter to one of the monastaries. Ask them to pray for you. Those men walk with God. Also, pray for the dead. Pray that their souls find final repose in eternal rest. Attend Mass during the week from time to time. Pray for a random person you don’t know. Ask you guardian angel to pray for you.

A little about me: I’m a revert to the faith. I was a seriously bad guy. Cursin’, fightin’, drinkin’, older women, younger girls, money, handguns, drivin’ 135mph… It goes on. I was just a plain unpleasant person except to the guys I stomped with. It was a real highway to hell. Never did drugs and I never hit rock bottom unlike most people and I thank God for that. The battle back can get seriously tough. I suffer from horrible dreams, but not the usual kind. The kind where sometimes tells me there gonna’ get me. And, horrible images come into my mind random times during the day. Stuff I never would have even though up before in the bad old days. Fr. Corapi talks a lot about this kind of stuff. When your being tormented its a sign your on the right track. Evil is a messenger. It can’t do anything but put thoughts in our heads. Just laugh in the devil’s face. He’s a big puss.

Wear a brown scapular, and carry a rosary everyday and everywhere… pray the chotki (the Jesus prayer):

"Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me."
Say it two or three times. Whenever you get the urge. The Holy Name of Jesus is powerful stuff. And, I finish it off with…

“Mary, Mother of God, Mother of Jesus, pray for me.”

Overtime you find you’ll end up saying those words to yourself throughout the day without really thinking of it. It becomes habitual. That’s what you want. To be habitually focused on Christ. Most of all love Jesus on the Crucifix like you love your own mother and father, and wife, and children. That will set you free.

Beyond this, I can give you more tips. Real Catholic culture stuff that isn’t taught in RCIA. Stuff that’ll do you right. I love evangelizing. And, I’m a real straight shooter.

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