Tag Archives: bishop of Rome

Prosper Grech’s admonition to cardinals in 2013 conclave

Before all the “extras” are dismissed from the Sistine Chapel so that the cardinal-electors gathered to elect a new Bishop of Rome, can get to work, the cardinals hear a admonition, typically from one of their own. A papal election is not only an ecclesial act, but also a formation of mind and heart. Cardinal Prosper Grech, OSA, 87, was that admonitor. The Cardinal is a brilliant man with a good sense of humor. What he’s given us to ponder is yet another path into the heart of the gospel and the Church, today. Grech’s ideas just might open a new door for the work of the new evangelization and one’s own formation in the Faith.

What is fascinating is that the text of the secret session was made public recently. Last week I saw somewhere in cyberspace some paragraphs of Cardinal Grech’s text. This hasn’t happened prior to now. The text, in Italian, was published in the recent edition of the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

A portion of the text now appears on Sandro Magister’s website, La Chiesa, under the title, “Groundbreaking: The Last Warning to the Pope’s Electors.” The following several paragraphs are indeed very, very interesting.

As Grech said, “The action you are about to carry out within this Sistine Chapel…”

[…] I have no intention of making the identikit of the new pope, and much less of presenting a plan of action for the future pontiff. This very delicate task belongs to the Holy Spirit, who in recent decades has gifted us with a series of excellent holy pontiffs. My intention is that of drawing from Scripture some reflections to help us understand what Christ wants from his Church. […]


After his resurrection Jesus sent the apostles into the whole world to make disciples of all peoples and baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Mt 29:19). The Church does this by presenting the Gospel without compromise, without diluting the word. […] When one descends to compromises with the Gospel one empties it of its “dynamis,” as if one were to remove the explosive from a hand grenade. Nor must one give in to temptation thinking that, since Vatican Council II is believed to have leveled out salvation for those who are outside of the Church as well, the need for baptism has been relativized. Today is added the abuse of many indifferent Catholics who neglect or refuse to baptize their children.


The proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God is made concrete in the proclamation of “Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2). […] It is precisely this scandal of the cross that humbles the “hybris” of the human mind and elevates it to accept a wisdom that comes from above. In this case as well, to relativize the person of Christ by placing him alongside other “saviors” means emptying Christianity itself of its substance. It is precisely the preaching of the absurdity of the cross that in less than three hundred years reduced to the minimum the religions of the Roman empire and opened the minds of men to a new view of hope and resurrection. It is for the same hope that the modern world is thirsting, suffering from an existential depression.


Christ crucified is intimately connected to the Church crucified. It is the Church of the martyrs, from those of the first centuries to the many faithful who, in certain countries, are exposing themselves to death simply by going to Sunday Mass. […] Jesus predicts: “if they have persecuted me, they will persecute you” (Jn 15:20). Therefore, persecution is a “quid constitutivum” of the Church, […] it is a cross that it must embrace. But persecution is not always physical, there is also the persecution of falsehood: “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake” (Mt 5:11). You have recently experienced this through some media outlets that do not love the Church. When the accusations are false one must not pay attention to them, even if they cause immense pain.


It is another thing when what is said about us is the truth, as has happened in many of the accusations of pedophilia. Then we must humble ourselves before God and men, and seek to uproot the evil at all costs, as did, to his great regret, Benedict XVI. And only in this way can we regain credibility before the world and give an example of sincerity. Today many people do not arrive at believing in Christ because his face is obscured or hidden behind an institution that lacks transparency. But if recently we have wept over many unpleasant events that have befallen clergy and laity, even in the pontifical household, we must consider that these evils, as great as they may be, if compared with certain evils in the history of the Church are nothing but a cold. And just as these have been overcome with God’s help, so also the present crisis will be overcome. Even a cold needs to be taken care of well to keep it from turning into pneumonia.


The evil spirit of the world, the “mysterium iniquitatis” (2 Thes 2:7), constantly strives to infiltrate the Church. Moreover, let us not forget the warning of the prophets of ancient Israel not to seek alliances with Babylon or with Egypt, but to follow a pure policy “ex fide” trusting solely in God (cf. Is 30:1; 31:1-3; Hos 12:2) and in his covenant. Courage! Christ relieves our minds when he exclaims: “Have trust, I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33). […]


No less easy for the future pontiff will be the task of keeping unity in the Catholic Church itself. Between ultratraditionalist extremists and ultraprogressive extremists, between priests who rebel against obedience and those who do not recognize the signs of the times, there will always be the danger of minor schisms that not only damage the Church but also go against the will of God: unity at all costs. Butt unity does not mean uniformity. It is evident that this does not close the doors to the intra-ecclesial discussion present in the whole history of the Church. All are free to express their thoughts on the task of the Church, but they should be proposals in line with that “depositum fidei” which the pontiff together with all of the bishops has the task of guarding. […]


Unfortunately today theology suffers from the feeble thought that dominates the philosophical environment, and we need a good philosophical foundation in order to be able to develop dogma with a valid hermeneutic that speaks a language intelligible to the contemporary world. It often happens, however, that the proposals of many faithful for the progress of the Church are based on the level of freedom that is granted in the area of sexuality. Certainly laws and traditions that are purely ecclesiastical can be changed, but not every change means progress, it must be discerned whether such changes act to increase the holiness of the Church or to obscure it. […]


In the West, at least in Europe, Christianity itself is in crisis. […] There reigns an ignorance and disregard not only of Catholic doctrine, but even of the ABC’s of Christianity. The urgency is thus felt of a new evangelization that begins from pure kerygma and plain proclamation to nonbelievers, followed by a continual catechesis nourished by prayer. But the Lord is never defeated by human negligence and it seems that, while they are closing the doors to him in Europe, he is opening them elsewhere, especially in Asia. And even in the West God will not fail to keep for himself a remnant of Israel that does not bend the knee before Baal, a remnant that we find mainly in the many lay movements endowed with different charisms that are making a strong contribution to the new evangelization. […] Care must be taken, however, that particular movements should not believe that the Church is exhausted in them. In short, God cannot be defeated by our indifference. The Church is his, the gates of hell can wound its heel but can never suffocate it. […]


There is another factor of hope in the Church that we must not overlook, the “sensus fidelium.” Augustine calls it “the inner teacher” in each believer. […] This creates in the depths of the heart that criterion of discernment of true and false, it makes us distinguish instinctively that which is “secundum Deum” from that which comes from the world and from the evil one (1 Jn 4:1-6). […] The coals of devout faith are kept alive by millions of simple faithful who are far from being called theologians but who in the intimacy of their prayers, reflections, and devotions can give profound advice to their pastors. It is these who “will destroy the wisdom of the wise and nullify the intelligence of the intelligent” (1 Cor 1:19). This means that when the world, with all of its knowledge and intelligence, abandons the logos of human reason, the Logos of God shines in simple hearts, which form the marrow from which the backbone of the Church is nourished. […]


While professing that the Holy Spirit is the soul of the Church, we do not always take him into consideration in our plans for the Church. He transcends all sociological analysis and historical prediction. He surpasses the scandals, the internal politics, the ambition, and the social problems, which in their complexity obscure the face of Christ that must shine even through dense clouds. Let’s listen to Augustine: “The apostles saw Christ and believed in the Church that they did not see; we see the Church and must believe in Christ whom we do not see. By holding fast to what we see, we will arrive at seeing the one whom now we do not see” (Sermo 328, 3). […] In 1961 John XXIII received in audience in this Sistine Chapel the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See. He indicated the dominant figure of Christ the judge in the fresco of Michelangelo, and told them that Christ will also judge the actions of the individual nations in history. You find yourselves in this same Chapel, beneath the figure of that Christ with his hand raised not to crush but to illuminate your voting, that it may be “secundum Spiritum,” not “secundum carnem.” […] It is in this way that the elected will be not yours, but essentially His. […]

Pope Francis’ interview with journalists, Part I

Part I of II of the transcript of the interchange between Pope Francis and the journalists on Sunday’s plane ride to Rome. His Holiness gave journalists an unprecedented, unscripted and and frank responses to their questions. The news people went overboard with the some aspects of the interview, but that’s no surprise for a bunch of people working with churchmen is new. The constant talk about homosexuality is bit much as of now; there is more people want to know of what the Holy Father thinks.

We Catholics follow Jesus Christ, not a bureaucrat, or an organization. Please remember that.

Here’s Part II of the interviewHere’s Zenit’s translation of Part I:

Father Lombardi:

Now, dear friends, we have the joy of having with us on this return trip, the Holy Father Francis. He has been kind enough to give us a good long time to evaluate the trip with us and answer your questions in total liberty. I give him the floor for a brief introduction and then we will begin with the list of those who registered to talk and we will take them from different national and linguistic groups. Now the floor is yours, You Holiness, to begin.

Pope Francis:

Good evening and thank you so much. I am happy. It has been a good trip; it has done me good spiritually. I’m quite tired, but with a joyful heart, and I am well, well: it did me good spiritually. It does one good to meet people, because the Lord works in each one of us; He works in the heart, and the richness of the Lord is such that we can always receive many good things from others. And this does me good. This, as a first evaluation. Then I would say that the kindness, the heart of the Brazilian people is great, is true: its great. They are such kind people, a people that loves celebration, that even in suffering always finds a way to seek the good anywhere. And this is good: they are a happy people, a people who have suffered so much! The joy of Brazilians is contagious, it’s contagious! And these people have a great heart. Then I would say of the organizers, from our part as well as that of the Brazilians – but I felt I was in front of a computer, an incarnated computer … But truly, everything was absolutely punctual, no? But good. Then we had problems with security theories: security here and there; there wasn’t an incident in the whole of Rio de Janeiro in these days, and everything was spontaneous. With less security, I was able to be with the people, to embrace and greet them, without armored cars. It’s the security of trusting people. It’s true that there is always the danger that there is a madman … alas, yes, that there is a madman who does something; but there is also the Lord! But, to make an armored space between the Bishop and the people is madness, and I prefer this madness: [to be] outside and run the risk of the other madness. I prefer this madness: outside. Closeness does good to all.

Then, the organization of the Day, not something specific, but everything: the artistic part, the religious part, the catechetical part, the liturgical part … it was very beautiful! They have a capacity to express themselves in art. Yesterday, for instance, they did very beautiful things, very beautiful! Then, Aparecida. For me Aparecida is an intense religious experience. I recall the Fifth Conference. I was there to pray. I wanted to go alone, somewhat hidden, but there was an impressive crowd! It wasn’t possible [to be hidden], I knew that before arriving. And we prayed, we did. I don’t know … one thing … but also from your part. Your work was, I’m told – I didn’t read the newspapers during these days, I didn’t have the time, I did not watch the TV, nothing –, but I’m told that it was good, good, good work! Thank you, thank you for the collaboration, and thank you for having done this. Then the number, the number of young people. Today – I can’t believe it – but today the Governor spoke of three million. I can’t believe it. But from the altar —  that’s true! – I don’t know if you, some of you were at the altar: from the altar, at the end, the whole beach was full, up to the curve, more than four kilometers. But so many young people. And they say, Monsignor [Archbishop] Tempesta told me, that they were from 178 countries: 178! The Vice-President also gave me this number: that’s certain. It’s important! Intense!

Father Lombardi:

Thank you. Now we give the floor first to Juan de Lara, who is from Efe, a Spaniard, and it’s the last trip he makes with us; so, we are happy to give him this possibility.

Juan de Lara:

Good evening, Holiness. On behalf of all our companions we want to thank you for these days you have given us in Rio de Janeiro, the work you have done, and the effort it implies and also in the name of all Spanish journalists, we want to thank you for the prayers and the praying for the victims of the train accident of Santiago de Compostela. Thank you very much. And the first question, — it doesn’t have much to do with the trip, but we take advantage of the occasion that gives us this possibility and I wanted to ask you: Holiness, in these four months of pontificate, we see that you have created several commissions to reform the Vatican Curia. I would like to ask you: What type of reform do you have in mind? Do you contemplate the possibility of doing away with the IOR, the so-called Vatican Bank? Thank you.

[Repeated in Italian]

Pope Francis:

The steps I have taken in these four and a half months, come from two sources: the content of what had to be done, it all comes from the source of the General Congregations that we Cardinals had. They were things that we Cardinals asked for to the one who’d be the new Pope. I remember that I asked for many things, thinking of someone else. That is, we asked, this has to be done … for instance, the Commission of eight Cardinals, we know that it’s important to have an outside consultation, not the consultations that take place, but from the outside. And this is in line – here I make a sort of abstraction, thinking, however, to explain it – in the line increasingly of the maturation of the relation between the Synodality and the Primacy. That is, these eight Cardinals favor Synodality, they help the different episcopates of the world to express themselves in the government itself of the Church. Many proposals were made, which have not yet been put into practice, such as the reform of the Synod’s Secretariat, the methodology; such as the Post-Synodal Commission which has a permanent character of consultation; such as the Cardinals’ Consistories with topics that aren’t so formal – such as, for instance, canonization –, but also subjects, etc. Well, the source of the contents comes from there. The second source is the opportunity. I’ll tell you, it wasn’t hard for me, at the end of the first month of pontificate, to create the Commission of the eight Cardinals, which is one thing … The financial part I thought I’d address next year, because it’s not the most important thing to address. However, the agenda was changed due to the circumstances that you know, which are of the public domain; problems appeared which had to be addressed. The first, the problem of the IOR, namely, how to direct it, how to delineate it, how to reform it, how to heal what has to be healed, and there is the first Commission of Reference, that’s its name. You know the <chirograph>, what is requested, those who make it up, and everything. Then we had the meeting of the Commission of the fifteen Cardinals who are concerned with the economic aspects of the Holy See. They are from all parts of the world. And there, while preparing that meeting, the need was seen to establish a same Reference Commission for the whole economy of the Holy See. That is, the economic problem was addressed outside the agenda, but these things happen when in the office of government, no? One goes here but a goal is kicked from over there and one must intercept it, isn’t that right? Then, life is like this and that is what is lovely about life also. I repeat the question you asked me about the IOR, sorry, I’m speaking in Spanish. Sorry … the answer came to me in Spanish.

[Repeated in Italian]

With reference to that question you asked me about the IOR, I don’t know how the IOR will end; some say that, perhaps, it’s best if it’s a bank, others that it be an aid fund, others say to close it. Alas! These voices are heard. I don’t know. I trust the work of the people of the IOR, who are working on this, also of the Commission. The President of the IOR remains, the same one who was there before; instead the Director and the Vice-Director have resigned. But this, I cannot tell you how this story will end, and this is good also because one finds, one seeks; we are human, in this; we must find the best. But, this yes; but the characteristics of the IOR – whether a bank, an aid fund, whatever it is – must be transparent and honest. This must be so. Thank you.

Father Lombardi:

Many thanks, Your Holiness. So we now pass to a person of the representatives of the Italian group, and we have one whom you know well: Andrea Tornielli, who comes to ask you a question on behalf of the Italian group.

Andrea Tornielli:

Holy Father, I have a question that is, perhaps, somewhat indiscreet: the photograph has gone around the world of you, when we left, going up the steps of the plane carrying a black bag, and there were articles throughout the world that commented on this novelty: yes, of the Pope going up … it never happened, we said, that the Pope went up with his baggage in hand. So, there were even theories about what the black bag contained. Now, my questions are: one, why did you carry the black bag and why was it not carried by a collaborator, and two, can you tell us what was inside? Thank you.

Pope Francis:

It didn’t have the key of the atomic bomb! Alas! I carried it because I’ve always done so: when I travel, I carry it. What is inside? There is my razor, there is the Breviary, there is the agenda, there is a book to read – I took one on Saint Teresina to whom I am devoted. I have always carried the bag when I travel: it’s normal. But we must be normal … I don’t know .. what you are saying is a bit strange to me, that that photo has gone around the world. But we must get used to being normal, the normality of life. I don’t know, Andrea, if I’ve answered you …

Father Lombardi:

So now we give the floor to a representative of the Portuguese language, Aura Miguel, who is from Radio Renascenca.

Aura Miguel:

Holiness, I want to ask you why you ask so insistently that we pray for you? It’s not normal, usual, to hear a Pope ask so much to pray for him.

Pope Francis:

I’ve always asked for this. When I was a priest I asked for it, but not so frequently. I began to ask for it with a certain frequency in my work as Bishop, because I feel that if the Lord doesn’t help in this work of helping the People of God to go forward, one can’t … I truly feel I have so many limitations, so many problems, also being a sinner – you know it! – and I must ask for this. But it comes from within! I also ask Our Lady to pray for me to the Lord. It’s a habit, but it’s a habit that comes from the heart and also from the need I have for my work. I feel I must ask … I don’t know, it’s like this …

Father Lombardi:

Now we pass to the group of the English language, and we give the floor to our colleague Pullella of Reuters, who is here before you.

Philip Pullella:

Holiness, thank you, on behalf of the English group, for your availability. The colleague from Lara has already asked the question we wanted to ask, so I’ll proceed somewhat on those lines, however: in the search to make these changes, I remember that you said to the group of Latin America that there are so many saints that work in the Vatican, but also persons who are somewhat less saintly, no? Have you met with resistance in your desire to change things in the Vatican? Have you found resistance? The second question is: you live in a very austere world, you have stayed in Saint Martha’s, etc. Do you want your collaborators, also the Cardinals, to follow this example and perhaps live in community, or is it something for you only?

Pope Francis:

The changes … the changes come also from two sources:  what we Cardinals requested, and what comes from my personality. You were speaking of the fact that I have stayed at Saint Martha’s: but I couldn’t live alone in the Palace, and it’s not luxurious. The papal apartment isn’t so luxurious! It’s ample, big, but not luxurious, but I can’t live alone and with a small tiny group! I need people, to meet people, to talk with people … And because of this the boys of the Jesuit school asked me: “Why do you do it? Out of austerity? Poverty? No, no. Simply for psychiatric reasons, because I can’t cope psychologically. Everyone must carry his life forward, his way of living, of being. The Cardinals who work in the Curia do not live richly and magnificently: they live in an apartment, they are austere, they are austere. Those that I know, the apartments that APSA gives the Cardinals. Then it seems to me there is something else I would like to say. Each one must live as the Lord asks him to live. But austerity – a general austerity – I think is necessary for all of us who work in the service of the Church. There are so many shades of austerity … each one must find his way. In regard to the saints, this is true, there are saints: Cardinals, priests, bishops, Sisters, laymen: people who pray, people who work so much, and also who go to the poor, in a hidden way. I know of some who are concerned with feeding the poor and then, in their free time, go to do their ministry in one or another church … They are priests. There are saints in the Curia. And there are also some who aren’t so saintly, and these are those who make more noise. You know that a tree that falls makes more noise than a forest that grows.  And this grieves me when there are these things. But there are some who give scandal, some. We have this Monsignor in jail, I think he’s still in jail, he is not in jail because he resembled Blessed Imelda in fact, he isn’t a Blessed. These are scandals that cause grief. Something – I have never said this , but I recall – I think the Curia has fallen somewhat from the level that it had some time ago, of those old Curia men … the profile of the old Curia man, faithful, who did his work. We are in need of such persons. I believe … they exist, but they are not so many as there were some time ago. The profile of the old Curia man: I would say this. We need more of these. Do I find resistance? Alas! If there is resistance, I haven’t seen it yet. It’s true that I haven’t done so many things, but I can say yes, I have found help, and I have also found loyal people. For instance, I’m pleased when a person says to me: “I’m not in agreement,” and I have found this. “But I don’t see this, I don’t agree: I say it, you do it.” This is a true collaborator. And I’ve found this in the Curia. And this is good. But when there are those who say: “Ah, how good, how good, how good,” but then say the opposite on the other side … Now I can’t remember. Perhaps there are some, but I can’t remember. Resistance: in four months one can’t find so much ….

Father Lombardi:

Well then, we now go to a Brazilian, it seems right to me. Then there is Patricia Zorzan, perhaps Izoard is coming so then we also have a Frenchman.

Patricia Zorzan:

Speaking on behalf of Brazilians. The society has changed, young people have changed, and we see many young people in Brazil. You have spoken to us about abortion, matrimony between persons of the same sex. In Brazil a law has been approved which extends the right of abortion and has allowed matrimony between persons of the same sex. Why didn’t you speak about this?

[Repeated in Italian]

Pope Francis:

The Church has already expressed herself perfectly on this. It wasn’t necessary to go back to this, nor did I speak about fraud or lies or other things, on which the Church has a clear doctrine.

[Repeated in Italian]

Patricia Zorzan:

But it’s an issue that interests young people …

[Repeated in Italian]

Pope Francis:

Yes, but it wasn’t necessary to talk about that, but about positive things that open the way to youngsters, isn’t that so? Moreover, young people know perfectly well what the position of the Church is.

[Repeated in Italian]

Patricia Zorzan:

What is the position of Your Holiness, can you tell us?

[Repeated in Italian]

Pope Francis:

That of the Church. I’m a child of the Church.

[Repeated in Italian]

Father Lombardi:

Now we return to the Spanish group: Dario Menor Torres … ah, sorry, Izoard, whom we already called, so we have one of the French group … and then, Dario Menor.

Antoine-Marie Izoard:

Good day, Your Holiness. On behalf of colleagues of the French language on the flight – we are nine on this flight. For a Pope who is not keen on interviews, we are truly grateful to you. Since March 13, you have introduced yourself as the Bishop of Rome, with very great and strong insistence. So, we would like to understand what the profound meaning is of this insistence, if perhaps more than collegiality there is talk perhaps of ecumenism, for the case of being primus inter pares in the Church? Thank you.

Pope Francis:

Yes, on this we must not go beyond what is said. The Pope is bishop, Bishop of Rome, because the Bishop of Rome is the Successor of Peter, Vicar of Christ. There are other titles, but the first title is “Bishop of Rome,” and everything stems from there. To speak, to think what this means to be primus inter pares, no, this isn’t a consequence of that. It’s simply the Pope’s first title: Bishop of Rome. But there are also others … I think you said something about ecumenism: I believe this favors ecumenism somewhat. But, this alone …

Happy 8th anniversary of election to Benedict XVI, pope emeritus of Rome

Sua Santità Benedetto XVI, Papa emerito di Roma.jpg

Today is the 8th anniversary of election of His Holiness Benedict XVI, pope emeritus of Rome. His pontificate came to an end on 28 February 2013. A blessed day to Benedict!

Rome Reports marks the anniversary.

Popes who belonged to religious orders

Pope Gregory XVI made gambling on papal electi...

Pope Gregory XVI, a Benedictine monk, made gambling on papal elections punishable by excommunication.

When Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected the 266th Roman Pontiff he was listed among a rather small and elite group of men who had their intellectual and spiritual formation in religious life. Bergoglio is a member of the Society of Jesus. But who are the others?

The Benedictine monks have 17
Gregory I, Boniface IV, Adeodatus II, Leo IV, John IX, Leo VII, Stephen IX, Gregory VII, Victor, III, Urban II, Paschal II, Gelasius, II, Celestine V, Clement VI, Urban V, Pius VII, Gregory XVI
The Augustine canons and friars have 6
Honorius II, Innocent II, Lucius II, Adrian IV, Gregory VIII, Eugene IV
The Franciscans friars have 4
Nicholas IV, Sixtus IV, Sixtus V, Clement XIV
Secular Franciscans have 2
Pius IX, Leo XIII
The Dominicans friars have 4
Innocent V, Benedict XI, Pius V, Benedict XIII
The Cistercian monks have 2
Eugene III, Benedict XII
The Theatine clerks regular have 
Paul IV
The Jesuit clerks regular have 1
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A papal brotherhood

Francis and Benedict at helicopter.jpg

2 popes praying at Gandolfo 23 March 2013.jpg
2 popes talking 23 March 2013.jpg
Only speculation exists at this point as to any of the details on the meeting of the Pope and the Pope emeritus, today at Castel Gandolfo (other than those revealed by the Press Officer for the Holy See, Father Lombardi, SJ, and those others allowed to witness an epic event): dress, the embrace, prayer together, a gift of an icon of Our Lady of Humility, a meal, and a 45 minute private meeting. There is a deep communion between the two of them. And there is no shortage of news making analysis, including Vatican Radio. The beautiful acknowledgement of Pope Francis was, and very emotionally charged, I believe, was his reference, “We are brothers.”

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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