Caritas in Veritate

The blog of Father John Boyle

‘Sexual relations’ and ‘conjugal relations’ differ categorically

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In the Light of the Law

Among the fault lines revealed by the ecclesiastical earthquakes erupting after Pope Francis’ Amoris laetitia, we can see, I suggest, how some high-ranking ecclesiastics seem inadequately to understand the differences between “sexual relations” and “conjugal relations”.

Most any man and any woman can have sexual relations, of course, but only spouses can have conjugal relations. While physically the actions are the same, the differences between a non-married couple engaging in sexual relations and a married couple engaging in conjugal relations are numerous in the natural order (emotionally, psychologically, even legally); if engaged in between Christians, those differences become categorical (sacramentally, spiritually, and even canonically).

I flagged this confusing of “sexual relations” with “conjugal relations” in my comments on the Maltese Disaster noting that Bps. Scicluna & Grech had carelessly spoken of non-married couples exercising a conjugal virtue (Criteria, # 9). But they were not the first, nor are…

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Written by Father John Boyle

February 16, 2017 at 3:18 pm

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I’ll be staying with Blogger

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After briefly dallying with WordPress following a rather long outage on Blogger, I have decided to keep my blog on Blogger. So there will be no further posts on this blog, at least for now.

My blog is at!

Written by Father John Boyle

May 14, 2011 at 9:39 am

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English & Welsh Bishops restore Friday penance of abstaining from meat

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In their Spring Meeting, the Bishops of England & Wales have decided that the current norms are too woolly. Leaving it up to the individual just does not work. We need (a) to have a clear directive and (b) to be in tune with the universal practice of the Church. Well, that’s my take on it. So, here’s the statement from the Bishops’ Media Office under the heading Catholic Witness – Friday Penance with thanks to Peter Jennings:

By the practice of penance every Catholic identifies with Christ in his death on the cross. We do so in prayer, through uniting the sufferings and sacrifices in our lives with those of Christ’s passion; in fasting, by dying to self in order to be close to Christ; in alms-giving, by demonstrating our solidarity with the sufferings of Christ in those in need. All three forms of penance form a vital part of Christian living. When this is visible in the public arena, then it is also an important act of witness.

Every Friday is set aside by the Church as a special day of penance, for it is the day of the death of our Lord. The law of the Church requires Catholics to abstain from meat on Fridays, or some other form of food, or to observe some other form of penance laid down by the Bishops’ Conference.

The Bishops wish to re-establish the practice of Friday penance in the lives of the faithful as a clear and distinctive mark of their own Catholic identity. They recognise that the best habits are those which are acquired as part of a common resolve and common witness. It is important that all the faithful be united in a common celebration of Friday penance.

Respectful of this, and in accordance with the mind of the whole Church, the Bishops’ Conference wishes to remind all Catholics in England and Wales of the obligation of Friday Penance.

The Bishops have decided to re-establish the practice that this should be fulfilled by abstaining from meat.

Those who cannot or choose not to eat meat as part of their normal diet should abstain from some other food of which they regularly partake.

This is to come into effect from Friday 16 September 2011 when we will mark the anniversary of the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United Kingdom.

Many may wish to go beyond this simple act of common witness and mark each Friday with a time of prayer and further self-sacrifice. In all these ways we unite our sacrifices to the sacrifice of Christ, who gave up his very life for our salvation.

Now, how’s about giving us our Holydays of Obligation back? 🙂

Written by Father John Boyle

May 13, 2011 at 9:57 pm

One priest’s reason to be grateful for Universae Ecclesiae

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Catholic News Agency writes today about Glasgow priest Father Stephen Dunn’s experience and his reasons for being grateful that the 1962 Mass is fully part of the life of the Church:

Father Stephen Dunn had a very personal reason for wanting to learn the Tridentine Mass.

“My father, who attends the Tridentine Mass every Sunday, has stipulated in his will that he is to be buried to the Tridentine Mass and no other Mass. So as his only son who’s a priest I hated to think I couldn’t bury my father through incompetence and lack of knowledge of the traditional Mass of the Church.”

So when Pope Benedict XVI called for a more generous provision of the Tridentine Mass in his 2007 document “Summorum Pontificum” Fr. Dunn thought the time had finally come to learn the traditional liturgy. Hence the priest from Glasgow, Scotland, quickly signed up for a course in Oxford, England, organized by the Latin Mass Society.

Crucially “Summorum Pontificum” lifted the requirement upon priests to receive episcopal approval before saying the old Mass. However, Fr. Dunn explained, soon all the priests in Glasgow received a four page advisory document drafted by the chancellor of the archdiocese, Monsignor Peter Smith.

Fr. Dunn said the advisory note seemed to interpret the Pope’s instructions in a way that effectively turned many of them on their head. In fact, the renowned blogger Fr. John Zuhlsdorf described the advisory document’s interpretation of “Summorum Pontificum” as the “coldest, most hostile I have read so far.”

“There were three Glasgow priests signed up to the course in Oxford. After that note came round, two dropped out. They felt really intimidated. My own response, though, was to stick it out and attend.

“Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster said the first Mass. [Comment: he did so in the novus ordo] When I told him I was from the Archdiocese of Glasgow he said, ‘My goodness, you’re a brave boy’.”

That’s why Fr. Dunn welcomes today’s official clarification from the Vatican as to how “Summorum Pontificum” should be authentically interpreted and applied. So much so that he’s traveled to Rome for its publication and to attend the first traditional liturgy celebrated at the high altar of St Peters Basilica since 1969.

The Mass will take place this weekend.

“It’s really great. The fact that Rome is being so clear and precise about what the document really means. There now has to be obedience on all sides. It gives me great cause for hope and I pray by the grace of the Holy Spirit and through the intercession of Our Lady that Pope Benedict and his advisors are firm in applying this to bishops around the world and don’t accept any wavering.”

There are now only two parishes in Glasgow offering the Tridentine Mass but Fr. Dunn says that five other priests are now learning how to say the traditional liturgy.

Meanwhile, the Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica will be offered this Sunday morning by Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship.

And that public celebration in St Peter’s will be very significant. Will the Pope do so one day? It would be a very powerful message to send to the whole Church. Given sufficient notice, I shouldn’t be surprised if it might need to be celebrated outside!

Written by Father John Boyle

May 13, 2011 at 9:08 pm

“The Missal of Blessed John XXIII is our secure foundation, our doctrinal certainty, our beacon of light and faith in the dark night of Holy Mother Church.”

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This is the claim made by Leo Darroch, Executive President of Una Voce, in a talk given in Poland on 9th April. His talk, which can be found here, is all the more worth reading in the light of today’s promulgation of the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei.

Darroch suggests that the root cause of the crisis in the liturgical reform was the appointment of a Consilium to interpret the mind of the Fathers of Vatican II, removing this responsibility from the Congregation for Rites, the dicastery of the curia responsible for the regulation of the Sacred Liturgy. Darroch claims:

Despite the fact that the Consilium was merely an advisory body, it is now clear that the leading members had their own agenda and were given the freedom to impose their own ideas of the faith on to an unsuspecting Church at the time.

Whereas the Council voted for a moderate revision of the liturgical books, what resulted were

such spectacular changes that the public worship, in the new form of Mass, was unrecognisable to that which it replaced.

The problems were spotted very early on. Already in 1964 the Latin Mass Society had been formed in England and Wales in response to the concerns felt by members of the laity.

Darroch writes that, on 3rd September 1969, five months after the promulgation of the Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum which introduced the new form of Mass, Cardinal Ottaviani, fromer pro-Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Cardinal Bacci, a leading Latin expert, took it upon themselves to warn Pope Paul VI:

To abandon a liturgical tradition which for four centuries was sign and pledge of unity of worship and to replace it with another which can only stand for division, given the endless licence it implicitly authorises and which teems with oblique attacks and downright errors against the integrity of the Catholic faith, can only be described – in the most restrained terms – as a mistake likely to have incalculable consequences.

In a talk given by Cardinal Ratzinger in October 1988, His Eminence said:

Were one to shun these essential rules and put to one side the normae generales which one finds in numbers 34 – 36 of the Constitution De Sacra Liturgia (SL), in that case one would indeed be guilty of disobedience to the Council.

Did he think such disobedience had been committed? Here are those numbers of Sacrosanctum Concilium:

Wherefore, in the revision of the liturgy, the following general norms should be observed:

34. The rites should be distinguished by a noble simplicity; they should be short, clear, and unencumbered by useless repetitions; they should be within the people’s powers of comprehension, and normally should not require much explanation.

35. That the intimate connection between words and rites may be apparent in the liturgy:

1) In sacred celebrations there is to be more reading from holy scripture, and it is to be more varied and suitable.

2) Because the sermon is part of the liturgical service, the best place for it is to be indicated even in the rubrics, as far as the nature of the rite will allow; the ministry of preaching is to be fulfilled with exactitude and fidelity. The sermon, moreover, should draw its content mainly from scriptural and liturgical sources, and its character should be that of a proclamation of God’s wonderful works in the history of salvation, the mystery of Christ, ever made present and active within us, especially in the celebration of the liturgy.

3) Instruction which is more explicitly liturgical should also be given in a variety of ways; if necessary, short directives to be spoken by the priest or proper minister should be provided within the rites themselves. But they should occur only at the more suitable moments, and be in prescribed or similar words.

4) Bible services should be encouraged, especially on the vigils of the more solemn feasts, on some weekdays in Advent and Lent, and on Sundays and feast days. They are particularly to be commended in places where no priest is available; when this is so, a deacon or some other person authorized by the bishop should preside over the celebration.

36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.

2. But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters.

3. These norms being observed, it is for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, to decide whether, and to what extent, the vernacular language is to be used; their decrees are to be approved, that is, confirmed, by the Apostolic See. And, whenever it seems to be called for, this authority is to consult with bishops of neighboring regions which have the same language.

4. Translations from the Latin text into the mother tongue intended for use in the liturgy must be approved by the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned above.

Were these norms to have been observed, I don’t think there would have been the dramatic change in the liturgy that in fact resulted.

One of the Consilium members who was unhappy with what was going on in the revision of the Mass was Father (later Cardinal) Ferdinando Antonelli. He kept a journal and, in 1967, wrote about the lack of concern for true piety amongst the Consilium members:

No one has any longer an awareness of the sacred and binding character of liturgical law. The work of desacralization, which is now called secularization, continues on a grand scale. It is clear from this that the liturgical question is part of  a far bigger set of problems, which are fundamentally doctrinal, so the big crisis is the crisis of traditional doctrine and the magisterium.

Fr Antonelli also wrote:

[they] have no love, no veneration for what has been transmitted to us. [My emphasis.] Right from the start they despise everything which exists at present. This is an unjust and poisonous negative mentality. Unfortunately, even Pope Paul VI has something of this attitude. They all have the best of intentions, but, given this mentality, they are bound to demolish, not to restore.

Later in his paper, Darroch speaks about Una Voce’s work in securing the retention by the older form of the liturgy of its full right of citizenship in the Church, two forms of the Roman Rite on an equal footing. This goal has clearly been secured by the promulgation today of Universae Ecclesiae.

Back in 1970, the first president of Una Voce, Dr Eric de Saventhem foresaw a renaissance that is now occurring with the flowering of new movements, congregations, fraternities, orders of young people giving themselves to a radical dedication to the Lord inspired by the treasure of a truly sacred liturgy.

The desire of the members of the International Federation Una Voce are summed up toward the end of the paper as follows:

For the International Federation Una Voce, the Missal of 1962, of Blessed John XXIII, is our secure foundation, our doctrinal certainty, our beacon of light and faith in the dark night of Holy Mother Church. The members of the Federation all over the world  wish to attend Mass according to this venerable and ancient usage; untouched, and without modification or adaptation unless authorised by the Supreme Legislator. [Comment: and the Supreme Legislator will be authorising modifications and adaptations such as new Prefaces, the inclusion of new Saints, etc. See Universae Ecclesiae 25. He already authorised a change in the Good Friday prayer for the Jewish people.] Our concern is for the Catholic faith, for the supremacy of Peter, and to ensure that the faith of our forebears is handed down in its fullness to our children and grandchildren. The pearl of great price is one that we wish to hand on to our successors in the way that it has been handed down to us. It is this Missal that will undoubtedly be the remedy for the crisis in the Church.

This is an excellent paper. I hope that what I have quoted above will lead you to want to read it for yourself.

Written by Father John Boyle

May 13, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Vatican Instruction Universae Ecclesiae

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This instruction, published today (feast of Our Lady of Fatima) by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei and dated on the memorial of Pope Saint Pius V (the Pope of the implementation of the Council of Trent), will already have been commented on elsewhere and I haven’t yet read those comments. Here is what I am picking up as I read through it.

The full text of the Instruction can be found here.

1. The Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum of the Sovereign Pontiff Benedict XVI given Motu Proprio on 7 July 2007, which came into effect on 14 September 2007, has made the richness of the Roman Liturgy more accessible to the Universal Church.

The re-introduction of the usus antiquior is therefore good for the WHOLE Church. There is a richness in the Roman Liturgy which is not accessible in the Mass of Paul VI alone.

3. The Holy Father, having recalled the concern of the Sovereign Pontiffs in caring for the Sacred Liturgy and in their recognition of liturgical books, reaffirms the traditional principle, recognised from time immemorial and necessary to be maintained into the future, that “each particular Church must be in accord with the universal Church not only regarding the doctrine of the faith and sacramental signs, but also as to the usages universally handed down by apostolic and unbroken tradition. These are to be maintained not only so that errors may be avoided, but also so that the faith may be passed on in its integrity, since the Church’s rule of prayer (lex orandi) corresponds to her rule of belief (lex credendi).”

Liturgy is a vessel for the handing on of the faith from one generation to the next. We mess with it at our peril. According to St Vincent of Lerins (+445) the test of revealed and apostolic doctrine is “quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus” (that which has been held always, everywhere and by all).

6. The Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI and the last edition prepared under Pope John XXIII, are two forms of the Roman Liturgy, defined respectively as ordinaria and extraordinaria: they are two usages of the one Roman Rite, one alongside the other. Both are the expression of the same lex orandi of the Church. On account of its venerable and ancient use, the forma extraordinaria is to be maintained with appropriate honor.

The two forms of the Roman Rite are intimately connected with one another. Perhaps as beasts of burden yoked together both must pull in the same direction: towards God. But the more ancient use must be held in honour. No Catholic should therefore despise the older form. As the Instruction reminds us (n.7):

Among the statements of the Holy Father was the following: “There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the Liturgy growth and progress are found, but not a rupture. What was sacred for prior generations, remains sacred and great for us as well, and cannot be suddenly prohibited altogether or even judged harmful.”

And a reminder of the reasons Pope Benedict had for promulgating Summorum Pontificum (n.8):

a.) offering to all the faithful the Roman Liturgy in the Usus Antiquior, considered as a precious treasure to be preserved;

b.) effectively guaranteeing and ensuring the use of the forma extraordinaria for all who ask for it, given that the use of the 1962 Roman Liturgy is a faculty generously granted for the good of the faithful and therefore is to be interpreted in a sense favourable to the faithful who are its principal addressees;

c.) promoting reconciliation at the heart of the Church.

The Instruction contains “Specific Norms”. The first of these (n.13) reminds the Bishops of their responsibility to implement Summorum Pontificum in accordance with the mens legislatoris (the “mind” of the Holy Father) as clearly expressed in the Motu Proprio. In other words, in the case of any doubt, a Bishop must ask himself: what does the Holy Father desire?

Bishops must also promote respect for the Extraordinary Form.

14. It is the task of the Diocesan Bishop to undertake all necessary measures to ensure respect for the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite, according to the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

He could consider:

  • celebrating it himself
  • arranging for it to be celebrated in his cathedral
  • if he is unable or unwilling to celebrate it himself, he could demonstrate the honour and respect due to the older usage by his gracious presence at its celebration.

Much hot air has been expended on the definition of the so-called “stable group” (coetus fidelium – “gathering of the faithful” as Universae Ecclesiae translates it). What constitutes such a gathering of the faithful? Does it have to have been a group who had been requesting the older usage before Summorum Pontificum? Do they have to belong to the same parish? Can they be a group of people from a wider area who have come together to request the older usage? N. 15 clears this up:

15. A coetus fidelium (“group of the faithful”) can be said to be stabiliter existens (“existing in a stable manner”), according to the sense of art. 5 § 1 of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, when it is constituted by some people of an individual parish who, even after the publication of the Motu Proprio, come together by reason of their veneration for the Liturgy in the Usus Antiquior, and who ask that it might be celebrated in the parish church or in an oratory or chapel; such a coetus (“group”) can also be composed of persons coming from different parishes or dioceses, who gather together in a specific parish church or in an oratory or chapel for this purpose.

Nos. 16-18 make it clear that priests and faithful who arrive at a church or oratory requesting the possibility of celebrating Mass in the extraordinary form should be received in a spirit of pastoral zeal and of generous welcome by the pastor or rector of the church who must always permit the requested celebration with due respect to the already established schedule of liturgical celebrations.

16. In the case of a priest who presents himself occasionally in a parish church or an oratory with some faithful, and wishes to celebrate in the forma extraordinaria, as foreseen by articles 2 and 4 of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, the pastor or rector of the church, or the priest responsible, is to permit such a celebration, while respecting the schedule of liturgical celebrations in that same church.

17. § 1. In deciding individual cases, the pastor or the rector, or the priest responsible for a church, is to be guided by his own prudence, motivated by pastoral zeal and a spirit of generous welcome.

§ 2. In cases of groups which are quite small, they may approach the Ordinary of the place to identify a church in which these faithful may be able to come together for such celebrations, in order to ensure easier participation and a more worthy celebration of the Holy Mass.

18. Even in sanctuaries and places of pilgrimage the possibility to celebrate in the forma extraordinaria is to be offered to groups of pilgrims who request it (cf. Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, art. 5 § 3), if there is a qualified priest.

And who is “a qualified priest”?

20 a.) Every Catholic priest who is not impeded by Canon Law is to be considered idoneus (“qualified”) for the celebration of the Holy Mass in the forma extraordinaria.

Hurrah! At last it has been said!

Must he be fluent in Latin?

b.) Regarding the use of the Latin language, a basic knowledge is necessary, allowing the priest to pronounce the words correctly and understand their meaning.

No! The ability to pronounce and understand is all that is necessary. The prayers and readings of the older usage have a style that one quickly gets used to. I find that if I carefully read over the texts in Latin and English before the Mass, I am then able to understand what I am praying during the Mass. And surely a priest should do this anyway: to prayerfully meditate on the texts of the Mass before celebrating it is bound to increase his own reverence and attention, and possibly make up for any lack of attention or distraction that may befall him during the Mass.

Training in the celebration of the extraordinary form:

21. Ordinaries are asked to offer their clergy the possibility of acquiring adequate preparation for celebrations in the forma extraordinaria. This applies also to Seminaries, where future priests should be given proper formation, including study of Latin and, where pastoral needs suggest it, the opportunity to learn the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite.

Archbishop Nichols of Westminster is reported by the Catholic Herald as saying:

“Personally I don’t think it needs to be added to an already crowded seminary programme because it’s a skill that can be learned later in a priest’s life.”

Dumbing Universae Ecclesiae down a bit? The Catholic Herald has opened a debate: Should England’s seminaries teach the Extraordinary Form?

No qualified priest in the diocese?

22. In Dioceses without qualified priests, Diocesan Bishops can request assistance from priests of the Institutes erected by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, either to the celebrate the forma extraordinaria or to teach others how to celebrate it.

Institutes such as the Priestly Fraternity St Peter (FSSP) or the Instutite of Christ the King Sovereign Priest can be called upon to celebrate the Mass or to assist in training priests of the diocese to do so.

Although the Liturgical Books of the extraordinary form are to be followed without modification, new saints and prefaces are going to be included:

25. New saints and certain of the new prefaces can and ought to be inserted into the 1962 Missal, according to provisions which will be indicated subsequently.

We must await these provisions. This was already indicated in Summorum Pontificum. and in the letter of Pope Benedict to the Bishops of the world concerning the re-introduction of the older usage.

The Scripture readings may be proclaimed in the vernacular in the following way:
– at Low Mass: either solely in Latin, solely in the vernacular, or in Latin followed by the vernacular;
– at “higher” forms of celebration: either solely in Latin, or in Latin followed by the vernacular. It would not be licit to proclaim the readings solely in the vernacular at the more solemn celebrations.

26. As foreseen by article 6 of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, the readings of the Holy Mass of the Missal of 1962 can be proclaimed either solely in the Latin language, or in Latin followed by the vernacular or, in Low Masses, solely in the vernacular.

Which Liturgical laws apply? The Code of Canon Law 1983 is to be observed. But all liturgical law promulgated since 1962 which is incompatible with the rubrics of the liturgical books in effect in 1962 is derogated:

27. With regard to the disciplinary norms connected to celebration, the ecclesiastical discipline contained in the Code of Canon Law of 1983 applies.

28. Furthermore, by virtue of its character of special law, within its own area, the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum derogates from those provisions of law, connected with the sacred Rites, promulgated from 1962 onwards and incompatible with the rubrics of the liturgical books in effect in 1962.

So the Eucharistic fast is one hour; one may receive Holy Communion a second time in the same day; one fulfils the Sunday obligation by attending Mass in the evening of the Vigil, etc. etc. But Holy Communion is not to be given under both kinds; Holy Communion is to be received on the tongue; girls are not permitted to serve Mass.


29. Permission to use the older formula for the rite of Confirmation was confirmed by the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum (cf. art. 9 § 2). Therefore, in the forma extraordinaria, it is not necessary to use the newer formula of Pope Paul VI as found in the Ordo Confirmationis.

The faculty to confirm is very easily given to priests these days. I wonder if this is the intention in this Instruction or should Confirmation still be reserved to the bishop except for the most extreme cases? I remember an occasion in my previous parish when a couple of older people would have liked to have been confirmed in the extraordinary form. I had duly received faculties but, burdened by scruple, I took the opportunity to consult an official of Ecclesia Dei who informed me that this was not the mind of the Church and that the people concerned should be asked to accept Confirmation in the ordinary form, which they graciously did.

Holy Orders

The use of the extraordinary form is restricted:

31. Only in Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life which are under the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, and in those which use the liturgical books of the forma extraordinaria, is the use of the Pontificale Romanum of 1962 for the conferral of minor and major orders permitted.

So no seminarian not belonging to one of these communities may request ordination in the extraordinary form.

These are some of the things I have considered worth noting.

Father Z comments here, and is keeping an uptodate list of other comments here.

CNS reports here.

New Liturgical Movement here.

National Catholic Register.

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