Archive of November 22, 2005

Vatican document on homosexuals in the priesthood published by Italian news agency

Rome, Italy, Nov 22, 2005 (CNA) - The Italian news agency Adista has leaked the complete text of the long-awaited Instruction from the Congregation for Catholic Education which definitively excludes the admission of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies to the priesthood.

The Instruction “Concerning The Criteria Of Vocational Discernment Regarding Persons With Homosexual Tendencies In View Of Their Admission To Seminaries And Holy Orders” will be officially released next week at the Vatican, but Adista—which calls itself a “progressive” Catholic news agency—leaked the Italian-language document.

The Congregation says it does not intend the document to address “all the issues in the affective or sexual realm that require attentive discernment throughout the entire period of formation,” but rather to offer norms regarding the particular question of whether or not to admit to the seminary or to Holy Orders candidates who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies.

The six-page document, which appeared on the internet Tuesday, maintains that a candidate to the priesthood should attain affective maturity that will allow him to “to relate properly” with men and women, “developing in him a true sense of spiritual fatherhood for the ecclesial community that will be entrusted to him.”
It also reiterates that the Catechism of the Catholic Church distinguishes between homosexual acts and homosexual tendencies.  Regarding acts, it teaches that “these are presented grave sins” and are considered “intrinsically immoral and contrary to the natural law. As a consequence, they can never be approved under any circumstance.”

Regarding “deep-seated” homosexual tendencies, the Instruction points out that they “also are objectively disordered and are often a trial for such people.”  Nevertheless, such individuals “should be must be accepted with respect and sensitivity,” as they “are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter.”

Thus, the document states, “while deeply respecting the persons in question,” the Church “cannot admit to Seminary or Holy Orders those who are actively homosexual, have deep-seated homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called gay culture.”

“Such people, in fact, find themselves in a situation that seriously obstructs them from properly relating to men and women,” the Instruction continues.  “The negative consequences that can result from the Ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies should not be obscured.”

At the same time, the Instruction notes that in the case of persons with homosexual tendencies that “might only be a manifestation of a transitory problem, as, for example, delayed adolescence, these must be clearly overcome at least three years before diaconal Ordination.”

No question of rights

In Chapter 3 the Instruction reiterates the “two inseparable aspects of every vocation: the free gift of God and the responsible freedom of man.”  In this sense, “the mere desire to become a priest is not sufficient and there is no right to receive sacred Ordination.”

“It rests with the Church – in her responsibility to define the necessary requirements for reception of the Sacraments instituted by Christ – to discern the suitability of the one who wishes to enter the Seminary, to accompany him during the years of formation, and to call him to Holy Orders, if he is judged to possess the required qualities,” the Instruction states.

It goes on to affirm that the “formation of the future priest must articulate, in an essential complementarity, the four dimensions of formation: human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral. In this context, it is important to recall the particular importance of human formation as the necessary foundation of all formation. To admit a candidate to diaconal Ordination, the Church must verify, among other things, that the candidate for priesthood has attained affective maturity.”

Although “the candidate himself is primarily responsible for his own formation,” the Instruction makes note of the responsibility of the bishop or superior regarding the suitability of the candidate, and “in the case of a serious doubt,” he should not be admitted to ordination.

It also mentions the role of the spiritual director in the formation process, who “must clearly recall the Church’s demands regarding priestly chastity and the specific affective maturity of the priest.” 

The spiritual director should help the candidate “discern if he has the necessary qualities,” and it is his “obligation to evaluate all the qualities of the personality and assure that the candidate does not have sexual disorders that are incompatible with priesthood.”

“It would be gravely dishonest for a candidate to hide his own homosexuality, regardless of everything, to arrive at ordination. Such an inauthentic attitude does not correspond to the spirit of truth, loyalty, and availability that must characterize the personality of one who considers himself called to serve Christ and his Church in the ministerial priesthood,” the document states.

In its conclusion, the Instruction reaffirms the need for bishops, superiors and all those responsible to “carry out an attentive discernment regarding the suitability of candidates to Holy Orders, from the admission to Seminary to Ordination. This discernment must be done in light of a concept of ministerial priesthood that is in conformity with the teaching of the Church.”

According to the version published by Adista, Pope Benedict XVI approved the Instruction and ordered its publication on August 31.  Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, signed it in Rome on November 4, 2004, the feast of St. Charles Borromeo, Patron of Seminaries.

The complete text can be found at:

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Holy See to celebrate 500 years under protection of Swiss Guard

Vatican City, Nov 22, 2005 (CNA) - The world’s oldest active military corps, the Pontifical Swiss Guard, will celebrate its 500th anniversary next year. Earlier today, Vatican officials announced 5-month long plans for the momentous occasion.

Colonel Elmar Th. Mader, commander of the Pontifical Swiss Guard and Pier Paolo Francini, head of the Philatelic and Numismatic Office of the Governorate of Vatican City, were both on hand in the Holy See Press Office this morning to present the schedule.

At the outset of the press conference, Colonel Mader, briefly explained the history of the Swiss Guard, pointing out that Pope Julius II (1503-1513) had wanted a troop of guards both for his own personal protection and as the permanent nucleus of a larger army to be formed in case the Vatican was ever in danger.

The Pope chose Switzerland because of the country‘s history, as well as the large number of infantrymen available, but most of all, because of the great respect for the Church that characterized the Swiss Cantons.

In 1505, with his Bull "Confoederatis Superioris Alemanniae," the Holy Father ordered the prelate of the papal court Peter von Hertenstein to recruit 200 Swiss soldiers and lead them to Rome under the command of Captain Kasper von Silenen.

The 150-member strong guard, then crossed the Alps and the Italian regions of Lombardy and Tuscany, arriving in Rome on January 22, 1506

Colonel Mader said that "For the occasion of the fifth centenary of Julius II's Bull, the Holy Father wrote a letter to the president of the Swiss Episcopal Conference and to all the Swiss Guards, both those still in service and those who have been discharged.”

“In his Message,” Mader continued, “the Holy Father recalls the founding of the Guard, their heroic sacrifice during the sack of Rome (1527) and his gratitude for their centuries-long faithfulness to the pontiff."

He added that all of the celebrations "must take into account the fact that former Swiss Guards still feel bound to the corps,” and that "celebrations must include our own homeland as well as Italy, the Vatican and the city of Rome."

The Colonel went on to give details of the upcoming celebrations, which will commence on January 21st of next year with a gala reception at the Vatican. The following day, a Mass, presided at by Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano, will be held in the Sistine Chapel.

On March 29th, an exhibition entitled "The Pontifical Swiss Guard, 500 years of history, art and life," will be inaugurated in the Charlemagne Wing at the left colonnade of St. Peter's Square.

The display will explore the different aspects of the Swiss Guard both from a historical perspective and with regard to its current activities.

Later that spring, on April 7th, some 100 Swiss Guard members will retrace the historic Via Francigena pilgrimage route from Swiss Bellinzona to Rome, recalling the journey of their forbearers 500 years before.

They will be greeted in Rome on May 4th by local authorities before proceeding to the Vatican to receive a blessing from the Pope.

The major celebration of the fifth centenary will commence on May 6th with a commemorative Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, in which, a wreath of flowers will be laid in the Square of the Protomartyrs recalling fellow Swiss, who fell during the 1527 sack of Rome.

Then, at 4.30 p.m. in the Square, new Guard recruits will be sworn in, following with annual tradition. This year however, will mark the first time that the swearing-in ceremony has been held in St. Peter’s Square, not the San Damasco courtyard as is customary.

That evening, the day will conclude with a fireworks display over Castel Sant'Angelo.

In addition to a number of musical concerts scheduled for May in honor of the Guard--including one by the Swiss Army Concert Band on the 7th--a series of commemorative stamps honoring the 500th anniversary will also be issued.

Pier Paolo Francini, head of the Philatelic and Numismatic Office of the Governorate of Vatican City explained details of the Vatican stamps, recalling that this “is the first time that a series of stamps has been jointly issued by Switzerland and Vatican City."

The stamps have been designed by the Swiss artist Rudolf Mirer, himself a former Swiss Guard.

Francini also announced the coining of a Swiss Guard commemorative coin, valued at two euros, and scheduled to be released during the first six months of 2006.

Colonel Mader also noted that the Swiss Confederation itself has issued a gold coin to commemorate the anniversary, also designed by Rudolf Mirer.

Two more coins are scheduled to be minted in honor of the April pilgrimage from Switzerland including one in gold with the image of Pope Julius II, and another in silver, emblazoned with the image of Pope Benedict XVI.

In addition, the colonel pointed out that an official Vatican medal will be produced and given to current members of the Swiss Guard in honor of their service to the Holy See.

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U.S Bishops condemn attack on Christians in Pakistan

Washington D.C., Nov 22, 2005 (CNA) - Mob attacks against Christian sites in Pakistan appear to be “an organized act of terrorism,” according to the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ International Policy Committee, who called for an investigation of the events.

“The government should take affirmative steps to educate the people about tolerance and peace, remove religious biases in teaching materials, and repeal discriminatory laws,” said Bishop Thomas G. Wenski of Orlando in a November 17th letter to the Pakistani ambassador to the United States.

Three churches – Catholic, Presbyterian, and Salvation Army – in the town of Sangla Hills were “attacked, ransacked, and burned” on November 12, according to Bishop Wenski, as were a sisters’ convent, a girls’ hostel, a Catholic school, and the pastor’s house.

“The all too convenient excuse of an alleged desecration of the Holy Quran by one individual, even if such occurred, which seems doubtful, could never justify such wanton acts against innocent people,” Bishop Wenski said.

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Growing Vietnam Catholic population receives new diocese, throng of new priests

Vatican City, Nov 22, 2005 (CNA) - Because of a recently-burgeoning Catholic population, Pope Benedict XVI has decided to erect a new diocese in the harshly communist country of Vietnam.

The Vatican has announced that the Diocese of Ba Ria, which now becomes home to more than 224,000 Catholics, as well as 191 priests and 598 religious, will be headed by Bishop Thomas Nguyen Van Tram, who leaves his post as auxiliary in the Diocese of Xuan Loc.

Bishop Nguyen will now take leadership over territory taken from his former diocese, Xuan Loc, thus making the new see a suffragan of the metropolitan church of Thanh-Pho Ho Chi Minh.

In addition, the Vatican plans to ordain 57 new Vietnamese priests later this month--the largest number of clergy ever to be added to a communist nation in one ceremony.

Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, a senior Vatican envoy from Rome, will preside over the November 29th ceremony at St. Joseph's Cathedral in Hanoi.

According to reports, relations between the Holy See and the Vietnamese government--noted for its continued violation of religious freedoms--continue to improve, much to the benefit of the country’s nearly 6 million Catholics.

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Ethical guidelines needed for reproductive technologies, says bishop

Ottawa, Canada, Nov 22, 2005 (CNA) - Canada’s Assisted Human Reproduction Act must include protections for the human embryo as a person “entitled to the same fundamental rights as all other human beings,” said Bishop Ronald Fabbro of London, Ontario.

The bishop is the chairman of the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF). The current Act does not do so, said the organization in a Nov. 9 document submitted to the Department of Health.
The current proposed regulations are unacceptable, said the bishop, because the regulations do not “allow donors to consent to a human embryo being killed for its stem cells, and to consent to a human embryo being created, used and potentially killed for scientific research or educational purposes.”

Furthermore, they do no allow donors to consent to their eggs or sperm being used to create a human embryo outside the conjugal union of a married couple. Nor do they allow donors to consent to an embryo being “used” for reproductive purposes by the donor, posthumously by the donor’s partner, or by a third party.
“No person can ethically consent to any of these uses of human sperm, eggs, or embryos. The proposed regulations cannot validly enable donors to consent to such unethical purposes,” Bishop Fabbro wrote.
The current regulations offend the inherent dignity and worth of human beings because they explicitly allow the creation of more embryos than needed for immediate reproductive use by those for whom they were created, said the document. “As such, the regulations fuel the problem of frozen embryos, that is, human beings who are deprived of their freedom and exposed to a high likelihood of death without ever having the opportunity to be born.”

COLF said it affirms the Catholic position that no one has the power to consent to the creation or use of another person as a means to an end. “Parents or others may not validly consent to their child or another person being created or exploited for scientific advancement, including purposes such as education, the refinement of reproductive technologies, or stem cell research,” the bishop said. 
COLF requested that Canadians be informed about what the issues concerning reproductive technologies and the possible side effects of IVF on children and parents.
As well, COLF said, if the government insists to continue the practice of IVF, it should restrict the definition of “donor” to a married couple and not open it up to a third party.

Donors should also be able to give conditional consent rather than blanket consent for uses of their donated embryos, said the bishop. “This would allow donors to specify, for instance, that in vitro embryos created with their reproductive materials may not be used for research purposes. No subsequent custodian of such embryos would be able to donate them for research,” he said.

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Catholic leaders warn of 'environmental refugees' scenario

Sydney, Australia, Nov 22, 2005 (CNA) - A statement issued yesterday following the weekend's national climate change conference, calls for ecological conversion, warning that global warming could create a new wave of dispossessed people.

The warning followed a Position Paper launched by the Catholic Bishops Committee for Justice Development Ecology and Peace, which urged all Australians to cooperate in open dialogue and face the radical changes required to tackle global climate change.

Catholic Earthcare Australia was set up in 2003 by the Australian Bishops' Conference and is chaired by Bishop Christopher Toohey.

In the keynote address before more than 300 delegates, Bishop Toohey said that human induced accelerated climate change "raises serious moral and spiritual questions, not just for Catholics but for all Australian citizens and leaders, and calls for change in our way of life.

"Scientific research has concluded that humans have caused rapid global climate change by contributing to ever higher concentrations of greenhouse gases, 80 per cent of which comes from the burning of fossil fuels.

"If we act now the changes can be slowed and harm can still be minimise," he said.

Conference organizer and Executive Officer of CEA, Colin Brown, drew attention to United Nations figures released during the conference that revealed a blowout in Australia's greenhouse gas emissions.

"These alarming figures, released ahead of the international climate change conference in Montreal later this month showed that Australia's emissions have increased by a massive 23 per cent in the past 13 years," he said. "They expose a decade of lost opportunity in Australia in which things are getting worse, not better."

All speakers in a packed two-day program that combined theologians of many faiths with scientists warned of the need for urgent and immediate action.

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Canadian bishops head for Rome, celebrate with Jewish community

Ottawa, Canada, Nov 22, 2005 (CNA) - A delegation from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) will be in Rome for its annual meeting with officials from the Holy See, from Nov. 22 to Dec. 2.

The delegation is composed of CCCB president Archbishop André Gaumond of Sherbrooke, vice president Archbishop James Weisgerber of Winnipeg, and general secretary Msgr. Mario Paquette.
While in Rome, they will meet with various officials from the Curia, including the Secretariat of State, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Congregation for Bishops, Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Congregation for Catholic Education, Congregation for the Clergy and Congregation for Oriental Churches. The visit is expected to include an audience with Pope Benedict XVI.

These meetings permit open exchanges on a regular basis between the Canadian Episcopal Conference and the Roman Curia regarding common projects, preoccupations and challenges for the Catholic Church both in Canada and around the world.

Prior to their departure, they joined other Canadian bishops in Ottawa Nov. 16 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Nostra Aetate with members of the Canadian Jewish Congress. The bishops reaffirmed the importance of Jewish-Christian dioalogue.

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Catholic League warns lawmakers against “Catholic” pro-abortion group at upcoming policy summit

, Nov 22, 2005 (CNA) - Catholic League President Bill Donahue issued a stern warning to Catholic lawmakers attending the upcoming ‘Summit on the States,’ at which the pro-abortion group Catholics for a Free Choice will be presenting

CFFC has been invited to give a presentation called, “Progressive, Pro-choice and Catholic—An Endangered Species?” at the December 2nd summit, due to be held at Washington’s Capital Hilton.

In an open letter to Catholic lawmakers, issued Monday, Donahue pointed out that “CFFC is not simply an abortion-rights group—it is a profoundly anti-Catholic organization.” 

He denounced the group as a “profoundly anti-Catholic organization,” and noted that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops “has twice voted to condemn CFFC as a fraud.” 

He also cited CFFC’s president, Frances Kissling, who “has even gone so far as to say that her goal is to ‘overthrow’ the Catholic Church.”

Donahue urged lawmakers to steer clear of CFFC’s meeting and warned Catholics that he would provide “free publicity” to any who attend. “Your constituents”, he said, “need to know who their leaders really are.”

Added the Catholic League president: “any Catholic who consorts with CFFC is no friend of the Catholic Church.”

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Some Catholic organizations struggling with post-hurricane donations

Lafayette, Ind., Nov 22, 2005 (CNA) - Following the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in August and September, some Catholic organizations along the Gulf Coast are facing declining donations for their other charitable services, as well as catch-22’s because of earmarked funds, coming in strictly for hurricane relief.

This, according to a report in the Lafayette, Louisiana, Daily Advertiser, is leaving many already-homeless people without food, clothing, or a chance to get out of their own cycles of poverty.

Although there is a decent amount of money coming in, said Kimberly James, head of Lafayette’s Catholic Service Centers, which runs St. Joseph‘s shelter for Men, " it’s a mixed blessing. We need it as much as it hurts us."

"We're grateful”, she told the Advertiser, “for those designated donations, but we're asking for donations to support existing services."

Directly following the storms, the Lafayette Catholic Services bought and distributed $25 Wal-mart gift cards to the tune of 300 a month for needy and displaced families.

At the same time, James’ shelter, along with many others outlying the Gulf region, are filling up as FEMA and Red Cross shelters--set up following the hurricanes--now begin to close.

"It's a dynamic situation that changes day by day,” Eric Gammons, operations director for Lafayette Catholic Service Centers, told the Advertiser. “We just don't know what's going to happen tomorrow."

"People who never came in for assistance before are now coming in for help with their monthly utility bills," added James. But "the amount of unsolicited donations continues to decrease, affecting our ability to help."

Officials fear that although the local job market following the storms has increased, with construction, rebuilding, and debris-clearing jobs on the rise, they will not last.

And when they disappear, charity organizations fear, a great many Gulf residents will simply find themselves back on the streets or in shelters again.

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Liberal agendas, rather than common sense, driving world policies on sexuality

Madrid, Spain, Nov 22, 2005 (CNA) - During the 7th Congress on Catholics and Public Life, which took place last weekend in Madrid, psychologist Patricia Martinez Peroni said the United Nations Millennium Summit demonstrated that “sex has become a new political category” dominated by pressure groups.

During a round-table discussion on the “new idols of egalitarianism,” Peroni, who is professor of anthropology and psychology at the University of St. Paul, pointed out that at the regional and national level in Spain, the new public policies correspond to “measures that were previously approved by international organizations, influenced more by homosexual pressure groups rather than by common sense or scientifically based criteria.”

Maria Elosegui, professor of philosophy, told participants that in order to root out “feminism or radical machismo,” new social models that harmonize “nature, biology and rights” should be created.

She pointed out the need today to strengthen “the anthropology of paternity” and to ensure that men and women participate in public life, “offering together a complementary vision of these matters.”

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Overcome violence with good, say bishops of El Salvador

San Salvador, El Salvador, Nov 22, 2005 (CNA) - In a pastoral letter the Bishops’ Conference of El Salvador has called on authorities and society at large to assume the responsibilities and measures “courageously and generously” that will allow the country to overcome the state of violence in which it has fallen.

“As men of faith, we are convinced that this dramatic reality (of violence) can be transformed if each and every one of us assumes our responsibilities with clarity and courage,” the bishops stated.

In their statement, the bishops offered an analysis of the violence that has swept the country.  “The country which carries the name of Christ, our savior, is navigating through a sea of violence,” they maintained.

Although it may seem impossible to escape this scourge, they continued, the Church, through her social doctrine born of the Gospel, proposes an integral humanism that “opens the horizons of hope and points out some of the paths we must take.”

“Human dignity, respect for live, solidarity, subsidiarity and the search for the common good” are but a few of the notions that are necessary for overcoming evil with good, the bishops noted.  Overcoming evil with good for Salvadorans means realizing that violence “has become a true epidemic.”

It means analyzing the problem of juvenile gangs with the hopes of changing laws on the use of arms, the spread of which “is a decisive factor in the high murder rate we are experiencing.”

The bishops stated that all citizens should be involved in the effort to combat the problem of violence, rather than continuing to cast all the blame on the government.”

They also noted the indispensable role played by the family, which should be completely supported by the State and “is the most important school of human, civic and spiritual values.”

Only with “weapons of love” will it be possible to overcome evil with good, the bishops pointed out, because “when love overcomes evil, love reigns and where love reigns, peace reigns.”

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Bishops act in faithfulness to gospel, not in response to government, says head of Spanish Bishops’ Conference

Madrid, Spain, Nov 22, 2005 (CNA) - The President of the Bishops’ Conference of Spain, Bishop Ricardo Blazquez, said this week the bishops carry out their pastoral work “not in reaction to the initiatives of the government,” but in faithfulness to “Jesus Christ and the Gospel,” which they proclaim “boldly and without fear.”

Making his remarks as the bishops opened their fall assembly, Bishop Blazquez noted that rather than interpreting everything the bishops do as a “no”, “it should be understood as the reverse of a huge ‘yes’.”

When the bishops oppose such issues as abortion, euthanasia and same sex unions, he said, they do so in order to denounce “that which confuses, degrades, wastes and leads man astray.”

Regarding the government’s new policy on education, Bishop Blazquez expressed his hopes that it was still possible to come up with one that would satisfy “almost all sectors of society.”

He said the bishops not only want religion to be recognized in the new education policy, but also that the education of young people in Spain “be improved, as the present and future of our society is determined by it.”

During their gathering the bishops will commemorate the 40th anniversary of the closing of Vatican II.  Bishop Blazquez said the commemoration would serve as a means of deepening their understanding of purpose for which the Popes convened the historic event.

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Laity lacks formation to evangelize, Mexican bishop says

Mexico City, Mexico, Nov 22, 2005 (CNA) - Auxiliary Bishop Gustavo Rodriguez Vega of Monterrey, Mexico, said this week the laity’s lack of formation has hindered their ability to assume their important role in evangelization as envisioned by Vatican II.

During a diocesan conference on the laity, Bishop Rodriguez called for greater formation of the laity.  While the laity in general express an interest in partaking of the Sacraments, he said, “the mistake is believing that just receiving them is enough.”

Vatican II’s vision of the role of the laity, called to evangelize the world through the “witness of their own faith,” has not been explained sufficiently, the bishop continued.  While pastors are on the front lines in the Church, the laity are on the frontlines in the world, “and it is there where they must exercise their mission as Christians, with their testimony and good example,” he noted.  Pope Benedict XVI has reiterated the importance of the role of the laity, Bishop Rodriguez maintained, but the laity need to be more conscientious of their mission in the world.

If Catholics, who make up an overwhelming percentage of the populace, were to truly live their faith, “there would be less injustice, less crime.  Less of those things that go against the will of God and that take place on a daily basis,” he explained.

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