Fact Check

Did Pope Francis Write the 'Gentle Reminder' Message?

The uplifting message offers tips on how to live more fulfilling lives, and encourages less complaining.

Published Jan 4, 2018

Image Via neneo/Shutterstock.com
Pope Francis wrote a viral Facebook post offering a "gentle reminder" about what's important in life.

A piece of text offering valuable life lessons is frequently shared on social media under the title "A Gentle Reminder from Pope Francis":

This life will go by fast.

Don’t fight with people, don’t criticize your body so much, don’t complain so much.

Don’t lose sleep over your bills. Look for the person that makes you happy. If you make a mistake, let it go and keep seeking your happiness.

Never stop being a good parent. Don’t worry so much about buying luxuries and comforts for your home, and don’t kill yourself trying to leave an inheritance for your family. Those benefits should be earned by each person, so don’t dedicate yourself to accumulating money.

Enjoy, travel, enjoy your journeys, see new places, give yourself the pleasures you deserve. Allow dogs to get closer. Don’t put away the fine glassware. Utilize the new dinnerware; don’t save your favorite perfume, use it to go out with yourself; wear out your favorite sport shoes; repeat your favorite clothes.

So what? That’s not bad. Why not now? Why not pray now instead of waiting until before you sleep? Why not call now? Why not forgive now? We wait so long for Christmas; for Friday; for Reunions; for another year; for when I have money; for love to come; when everything is perfect… look…

Everything perfect doesn’t exist. Human beings can’t accomplish this because it simply was not intended to be completed here. Here is an opportunity to learn.

So take this challenge that is life and do it now… Love more, forgive more, embrace more, love more intensely and leave the rest in God’s hands. Amen.

This viral message is almost always accompanied by the claim that it was penned by the Pope, but we found no evidence that the Holy See actually wrote these words. This message does not appear on the Pope's social media pages, nor on any of the official web sites of the Vatican.

One of the most popular iterations of this message appeared on the Facebook page of "De La Salle College Malta" in August 2017—it was shared more than 150,000 times. Several other outlets also shared this message around this time as if it were a genuine message from the Pope. Although this message was frequently attributed to Pope Francis in August 2017, we found several earlier versions of this message that were not attributed to any author. Facebook user Jacob Casstevens, for instance, shared an unattributed version of this message as early as Christmas Day 2016.

This is a typical problem with viral quotes on the internet. A meaningful message may not get traction when it is attributed to an unknown author. When a famous name is attached to it, however, it gets a boost in popularity. This appears to be the case with the "Gentle Reminder from Pope Francis" message.

So who actually wrote these words?

Although we can't say for certain, the earliest posting that we could find was posted to the Tumblr page of singer Marcela Tais in April 2016. That message was written in Portuguese and is a near verbatim version of the viral Facebook post:

Olha, esta vida vai passar rápido, não brigue com as pessoas, não critique tanto seu corpo, não reclame tanto, não perca o sono pelas contas, não deixe de beijar seus pais, não preocupe-se tanto em deixar a casa impecável, deixe os cachorros mais por perto, não fique guardando as taças, use os talheres novos, não economize tanto seu perfume predileto, use-o para passear com você mesmo, gaste seu tênis predileto, repita suas roupas prediletas, e daí? Se não é errado, por que não ser agora? Por que não dar uma fugida? Por que não orar agora ao invés de esperar para orar antes de dormir? Por que não ligar agora? Por que não perdoar agora? Espera-se muito o natal, a sexta-feira, o outro ano, quando tiver dinheiro, quando o amor chegar, quando for perfeito… Olha, não vai ser perfeito, o ser humano não consegue atingir isso porque ele simplesmente não foi feito para se completar aqui… Então, aproveite este ensaio de vida e faça o agora, faça tudo que quiser desde que não deixe Deus triste. Sabe a vida abundante que Deus prometeu? Bom, é esta, que você enche todos os dias de pequenas esperanças sem culpar-se por divertir-se, sem julgar-se por ser tão simples e feliz com o pouco. Olha, desconfio que os bobos acabam sendo mais felizes.

Look, this life will pass fast, do not fight with people, do not criticize your body, do not complain so much, do not lose sleep by the beads, be sure to kiss your parents, do not worry so much about leaving the house flawless, let the dogs around, do not keep the bowls, use the new cutlery, do not save your favorite perfume so much, use it to walk with yourself, spend your favorite sneakers, repeat your favorite clothes, so what? If it is not wrong, why not now? Why not run away? Why not pray now instead of waiting to pray before bed? Why not call now? Why not forgive now?

Christmas is expected a lot, Friday, the other year, when I have money, when love comes, when it's perfect ... Look, it's not going to be perfect, the human being can not reach it because he simply was not made for So, enjoy this rehearsal of life and do it now, do everything you want as long as you do not leave God sad. Do you know the abundant life God has promised? Well, it's this, that you fill every day with little hopes without blaming yourself for having fun, without judging yourself for being so simple and happy with the little. Look, I bet the fools turn out to be happier.

The "Gentle Reminder from Pope Francis" message was not actually written by Pope Francis. This message was circulating for months before the Pope's name was subsequently attached to it.

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.

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