Catholic Dictionary




Apostolic Constitution of Pope Paul VI, issued in 1966, by which the canonical norms of fast and abstinence were changed. While changing the norms, the Pope made it clear that divine law requires all the faithful to do penance. Accordingly the purpose of the new regulations was not to weaken the practice of penance but to make it more effective. The Church, therefore, "while preserving--where it can be more readily observed--the custom (observed for many centuries with canonical norms) of practicing penance also through abstinence from meat and fasting, intends to ratify with her prescriptions other forms of penance as well, provided that it seems opportune to episcopal conferences to replace the observance of fast and abstinence with exercises of prayer and works of charity" (Paenitemini, III ).