A Message attributed to Pope Frances 

               Here’s a message circulating the Internet from Pope Francis, recounting his 2018 New Year’s message to the world. Though compelling and inspirational, it is fake news.     

“You can have flaws, be anxious, and even be angry, but remember that your life is the world’s biggest contest.” Only you can stop it from failing. You are appreciated, admired, and loved by so many. Remember that happiness does not have a sky without storms, a road without accidents, a job without effort, or a relationship without disappointments.  


Editor’s Note | This essay is an almost-word-for-word translation of a Portuguese text titled “Palco de vida” (Stages of life), attributed to the renowned poet Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935). Only the concluding line “Life is remarkable” was changed from the less-exciting “Life is a no-miss obstacle.”


“Being happy means finding strength in forgiveness, hope in battles, security in fear, love in discord.” It’s not only to enjoy the smile but also to reflect on the sadness. It’s not just about celebrating success. It’s about learning from failure. It’s not just about feeling happy with applause. It’s about being happy anonymously. Being happy is not a fatality of destiny but an achievement for those who can travel independently.  

“Being happy is to stop feeling victimized and become the author of your destiny.” “It is to walk through deserts, but to find an oasis deep in one’s soul. It’s thanking God every morning for the miracle of life. To be happy is not to be afraid of your feelings and to be able to talk about yourself. Have the courage to hear a “no” and trust the criticism, even when it’s unwarranted. It’s about hugging your kids and parents and spending poetic moments with your friends, even when they hurt you.  

“To be happy is to let the creature that lives in us live, free, joyful, and simple.” You are mature enough to say, “I made mistakes.” Having the courage to say I’m sorry. It’s the sense of saying, “I need you”. It’s having the ability to say, “I love you”. May your life become a garden of blissful opportunities that in spring is a lover of joy and in winter a lover of wisdom.  

“And when you make a mistake, start over.” Because only then will you be in love with life. You will discover that happiness isn’t about having a perfect life. But use tears to irrigate the tolerance. Use your defeats to train your patience.  

“Use your mistakes with the serenity of the sculptor.” Use the pain to connect to pleasure. Use obstacles to open the windows of intelligence. Never give up! Above all, never abandon the people who love you.  

Never stop being happy. Life is remarkable.”.  

__ POPE FRANCIS (signed by whoever circulated this Pope-like message) 

PS The New Year’s message from Pope Francis is fake—and worth reading.