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From what I understand, the Western and Eastern churches fasted identically for a long time: Wednesday and Friday, and the entirety of Lent. Is this untrue?

If not, when and why did the Catholics stop fasting on Wednesday and Friday and throughout Lent as the Orthodox fast?

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You have some great questions! –  Byzantine Oct 16 '13 at 0:26
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As a start...I would say take a look at the changes Vatican II made. Ill just put it this way...my Grandmother had much stricter fast regulations than I do. –  Charles Alsobrook Oct 16 '13 at 1:43
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Charles Alsobrook is on the right path in pointing you toward the changes made by Vatican II. The Catholic fasting rules used to be much stricter but have relaxed significantly since Vatican II.

However, even among Orthodox churches the fasting rule varies in regards to the specifics (for example, which kinds of oil are allowed). This probably held true even through the centuries when there was no Catholic/Orthodox split simply because of regional variances in diet and slower communication.

Long discussion on the whole topic here: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=54726.0

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Welcome to the site, and thanks for the additional insight. As a new visitor, I'd recommend checking out the following two posts, which are meant to help newcomers "learn the ropes": help page and How we are different than other sites? Also, this doesn't really answer the question. It looks like it should be a comment on another post, but you haven't yet earned enough to leave comments. (Again, see the help page.) Hopefully, soon! –  David Stratton Nov 20 '13 at 4:00
    
Yes, I would have just used a comment, but that wasn't an option yet. Thanks for the welcome! –  Paul Williams Nov 24 '13 at 20:52
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