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Pope establishes new Council for the Economy to oversee Vatican finances

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — In a move reflecting both his drive to reform the Vatican bureaucracy and his oft-stated desire to include laypeople in the leadership of the church, Pope Francis established a new panel, to include almost as many lay members as clerics, to oversee the finances of the Holy See and Vatican City State.

Another new office, to be headed by Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, will implement the panel’s policies.

Cardinal George Pell of Sydney arrives for Pope Francis’ Mass with new cardinals in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican Feb. 23. The Vatican announced Feb. 24 that Pope Francis has appointed Cardinal Pell to head a new Vatican office overseeing Vatican finances. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The Vatican announced the changes in a statement Feb. 24, explaining they would “enable more formal involvement of senior and experienced experts in financial administration, planning and reporting, and will ensure better use of resources,” particularly for “our works with the poor and marginalized.”

The Council for the Economy will include “eight cardinals and bishops to reflect the universality of the church” and “seven lay experts of different nationalities with strong professional financial experience,” the Vatican said. They will “meet on a regular basis and to consider policies and practices and to prepare and analyze reports on the economic-administrative activities of the Holy See.”

The lay members of the new council will exercise an unprecedented level of responsibility for non-clerics in the Vatican, where the highest offices have always been reserved for cardinals and bishops. The Vatican did not release any names of council members.

Reporting to the council will be the new Secretariat for the Economy, which will exercise “authority over all the economic and administrative activities within the Holy See and the Vatican City State,” including budget making, financial planning, hiring, procurement and the preparation of detailed financial statements.

“I have always recognized the need for the church to be guided by experts in this area and will be pleased to be working with the members of the new Council for the Economy as we approach these tasks,” Cardinal Pell said in a statement released by the Archdiocese of Sydney, which said he would take up his new position at the Vatican “by the end of March.”

Cardinal Pell is a “man who’s got financial things at his fingertips, and he’s a man who’s very decisive, and I think he’s a got a good understanding of how Roman affairs work,” South African Cardinal Wilfred F. Napier of Durban, who sat on one of the advisory panels that reviewed the arrangements before the pope’s decision, told Catholic News Service.

Pope Francis established the council and the secretariat with an apostolic letter given “motu proprio” (on his own initiative), dated Feb. 24, with the title “Fidelis dispensator et prudens” (“Faithful and prudent steward”), a quotation from the Gospel according to St. Luke. The same letter provides for the appointment of an auditor general, “who will be empowered to conduct audits of any agency of the Holy See and Vatican City State at any time.”

The motu proprio makes no mention of the Institute for the Works of Religion, commonly known as the Vatican bank.

The pope acted on recommendations from the Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Economic-Administrative Structure of the Holy See, which he established in July to review accounting practices in Vatican offices and devise strategies for greater fiscal responsibility and transparency.

According to the Vatican, the commission “recommended changes to simplify and consolidate existing management structures and improve coordination and oversight across” the Vatican bureaucracy, and called for a “more formal commitment to adopting accounting standards and generally accepted financial management and reporting practices as well as enhanced internal controls, transparency and governance.”

The recommendations were “considered and endorsed” by the pope’s eight-member advisory Council of Cardinals, which met for its third session Feb. 17-19, and the 15-member Council of Cardinals for the Study of the Organizational and Economic Problems of the Holy See, which met for the last time Feb. 24, since it ceased to exist upon the establishment of the new council.

According to Cardinal Napier, a member of the defunct council, at least some of the prelates on the new panel will be drawn from the former 15-member body.

“Something really to be needed to be done,” Cardinal Napier said of the pope’s actions. “For instance, there was no serious budgeting that you could call budgeting. … It was quite clear that some of the procedures and processes that were in place were not adequate for today’s world.”

The conclave that elected Pope Francis in March 2013 took place amid controversy provoked by the previous year’s “VatiLeaks” of confidential correspondence sensationally documenting corruption and incompetence in various parts of the Vatican bureaucracy.

Among other measures in his first year, Pope Francis established a special commission to investigate the Vatican bank, expanded the scope and enforcement of Vatican City laws against money laundering and the financing of terrorism, and set in motion an overhaul of the church’s central administration, the Roman Curia.

 

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Background: ‘Son of God’ movie a love story, say husband-wife producers

February 24th, 2014 Posted in Movies Tags: ,

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Catholic News Service

The upcoming movie “Son of God” should be seen as “a love story,” according to two of its executive producers, the husband-and-wife team of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey.

Diogo Morgado, a Portuguese actor, stars in a scene from the movie “Son of God.” The upcoming movie should be seen as “a love story,” according to two of its executive producers, the husband-and-wife team of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey. (CNS photo/Fox)

“This really is a love story, the greatest love story ever told,” Downey said.

The couple brought the 10-hour miniseries “The Bible” to television last year, garnering sizable ratings on the History cable channel.

Among those 10 hours was the story of Jesus. But Burnett and Downey decided even before the miniseries was televised that they would make a separate movie focusing on Jesus.

“When we were in Morocco filming,” Downey said, “I said to Mark, ‘We should have been making a film here.’” Downey, perhaps best known for her starring role for nine seasons on “Touched by an Angel,” plays Mary, mother of the adult Jesus.

Burnett, whose TV successes have been primarily in reality programming from “Survivor” to “Shark Tank” to “The Voice” to “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader,” concurred, but noted, “It wasn’t shot any differently” for multiplexes than “The Bible” had been for TV. ”

“Son of God” premieres in theaters nationwide Feb. 28. It tells the story of Jesus through the eyes of an elderly St. John, the only apostle who did not meet a martyr’s fate, on the isle of Patmos.

The film portrays the same kind of brutality seen in “The Passion of the Christ” a decade ago, although it’s concealed or suggested, as it had been in the miniseries. “Son of God” is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for “intense and bloody depiction of the Crucifixion, and for some sequences of violence.” Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

Downey did not dwell on the violent aspect of the movie, but in comparing the two films noted Mel Gibson’s film presupposes the viewer knows the story of Jesus, as it begins with Holy Thursday. “Son of God,” though, begins with Jesus’ birth, and through the signs and wonders he performs in the first hour of the movie, she said, “you get a chance to fall in love with him all over again.”

During a Feb. 4 interview with Catholic News Service while Downey and Burnett were in Washington to promote the movie, Downey said the endorsement of religious leaders is a big help. Two Catholic prelates have endorsed “Son of God”: Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington and Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles. High-profile Protestant leaders endorsing the film include Bishop T.D. Jakes and the Rev. Rick Warren. “Cardinal Wuerl has been so much of a help to us,” she added.

Burnett said the Anti-Defamation League had also given its own stamp of approval, based in large part on the depiction of events that led up to Jesus’ death: Pontius Pilate having been the fourth Roman governor of a politically restive Judea in the last 20 years; Jerusalem’s temple leaders, embodied by Caiaphas, being aware of Pilate’s threat to shut down the temple, even at Passover, if Jewish unrest is not tamped down; and the arrival into the holy city of a Nazarene miracle-worker whose reputation precedes him. Burnett added his hope that “Son of God” audiences “could actually see themselves as the disciples” in this stew of political intrigue.

One of Downey’s favorite moments in the movie is not from the dramatic side of the movie, but something that wasn’t even in the script. In a scene presaging Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand, Jesus and the Apostles are in a boat near the coastline. Children running along the shore wave to Jesus, and Jesus (Diogo Morgado) waves back and smiles.

“That wasn’t Jesus waving,” Downey said. “That was Diogo waving.” “We got so much feedback (after the miniseries) from people saying they like what Diogo Morgado brought to the role.”

Morgado is a native of Portugal who is a popular TV star there. He has starred in films produced in Brazil and Spain. He has leading roles in two U.S. independent films, which will be released shortly.

After a full day of interviews, Downey and Burnett went to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception to show clips from the movie and to talk with students from the adjacent Catholic University of America. On Feb. 5, they hosted an invitation-only preview screening at the 1,200-seat Lincoln Theater in Washington.

Editor’s Note: A related video has been posted at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UW894TR1Ok.

 

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‘3 Days to Kill’ with both violence and family values

By

Catholic News Service

By turns a mayhem-filled action flick and subdued domestic drama, tinged with some wry humor, “3 Days to Kill” is an odd mix of genres suitable only for thick-skinned grownups.

Kevin Costner and Connie Nielsen star in a scene from the movie “3 Days to Kill.” The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling.

To some degree that’s a shame because director McG offsets the high quotient of violence in his film with pro-marriage, family-friendly values that, in isolation, could be welcomed by all.

After collapsing in the midst of a mission, gruff, no-nonsense CIA agent Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner) is hospitalized and receives a diagnosis of terminal cancer. With only months to live, Ethan wants to focus on reconciling with his Paris-based wife, Christine (Connie Nielsen), and teen daughter Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld) from both of whom the demands of his work have long estranged him.

The first step in that process involves promising Christine that he has finally left the spy racket behind for good. So when flamboyant agency operative Vivi (Amber Heard) comes calling and tries to lure Ethan into hunting down and terminating a group of international terrorists, he turns her down flat. Until, that is, she offers him a potentially life-saving experimental medicine, to which the public has no access, as his reward.

Vivi sums up Ethan’s choice starkly: “Kill or die.”

With Christine off to London on a business trip, Ethan is left to care, as best he can, for hostile, teen-angst-ridden Zoey even as he secretly pursues the bad guys. A recurring joke has the ring tone Zoey has entered for herself on Ethan’s cell phone going off just as his espionage dirty work reaches a nasty climax of one sort or another.

Scenes of Ethan’s warming relationship with Zoey, and of his compassionate interaction with the African immigrants who have occupied his apartment in the City of Lights as squatters, are thus interspersed, and comically juxtaposed, with car chases, explosions, third-degree interrogation sessions and assassinations.

Meanwhile Vivi, who has made her interest in seducing Ethan obvious, is shown to have a taste for aberrant adult entertainment via images that further restrict the movie’s appropriate audience.

Though things are brought to a morally upright conclusion, the way there is landmarked with dead extras and a series of head-slamming, neck-breaking confrontations only those inured to such screen activity should consider witnessing.

The film contains considerable harsh violence with some gore, torture, brief rear nudity, images of decadent sensuality, several instances of profanity and occasional rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is L, limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13.

 

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Pope tells new cardinals they are servants, not courtiers

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Celebrating Mass with the newest members of the College of the Cardinals one day after their elevation, Pope Francis urged them to regard their new role not as one of worldly honor but of humble service and sacrifice.

Italian Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio greets new Cardinal Chibly Langlois of Les Cayes, Haiti, during a consistory at which Pope Francis created 19 new cardinals in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican Feb. 22. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

“A cardinal enters the church of Rome, not a royal court,” the pope said in his homily Feb. 23, during morning Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. “May all of us avoid, and help others to avoid, habits and ways of acting typical of a court: intrigue, gossip, cliques, favoritism and preferences.”

“May our language be that of the Gospel: ‘yes when we mean yes; no when we mean no,’” he said. “May our attitudes be those of the beatitudes and our way be that of holiness.”

Pope Francis celebrated the Mass with 18 of the 19 men he had raised to the rank of cardinal the previous day in the same basilica. Cardinal Loris Capovilla, who at age 98 is now the oldest member of the college, was absent on both occasions for reasons of health.

The 18 new cardinals, clad in the green vestments of the liturgical season of ordinary time, sat in a near semicircle around the main altar. More than a hundred of their fellow cardinals, also serving as concelebrants, sat in rows at the front of the congregation.

Retired Pope Benedict, whose appearance at the previous day’s consistory had surprised practically all the participants, did not return to the basilica for the Mass.

Pope Francis’ call for humility echoed a letter he had sent the new cardinals shortly after the announcement of their elevation in January, telling them that a red hat “does not signify a promotion, an honor or a decoration; it is simply a form of service that requires expanding your vision and enlarging your heart,” and that they should celebrate their new distinction only in an “evangelical spirit of austerity, sobriety and poverty.”

In his homily, the pope said that “Jesus did not come to teach us good manners, how to behave well at the table. To do that, he would not have had to come down from heaven and die on the cross. Christ came to save us, to show us the way, the only way out of the quicksand of sin, and this is mercy.”

“To be saint is not a luxury,” he said. “It is necessary for the salvation of the world.”

Quoting from the day’s reading from the Gospel according to St. Matthew, in which Jesus enjoins his disciples to love their enemies and pray for their persecutors, the pope said cardinals are called to live out that injunction with even “greater zeal and ardor” than other Christians.

“We love, therefore, those who are hostile to us; we bless those who speak ill of us; we greet with a smile those who may not deserve it,” he said. “We do not aim to assert ourselves; we oppose arrogance with meekness; we forget the humiliations that we have endured.”

The pope’s words recalled his previous day’s talk to the cardinals, whose traditional scarlet garb is said to symbolize the blood of martyrs, when he called on them to pray for “all Christians suffering from discrimination and persecution” and “every man and woman suffering injustice on account of his or her religious convictions.”

Following the Mass, the pope appeared at the window of his office in the Apostolic Palace and addressed a crowd in St. Peter’s Square before praying the noon Angelus.

He said the weekend’s gathering of the world’s cardinals was a “precious occasion for experiencing the catholicity of the church, well represented by the varied origins of the members of the College of Cardinals, gathered in close communion around the successor of Peter. And may the Lord gives us the grace to work for the unity of the church.”

 

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Pope Francis, with retired Pope Benedict present, creates new cardinals

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — On a feast day commemorating the authority Jesus gave to St. Peter and his successors, the popes, Pope Francis created 19 new cardinals in the presence of retired Pope Benedict XVI.

To the great surprise of most people present, the retired pope entered St. Peter’s Basilica about 15 minutes before the new cardinals and Pope Francis. Wearing a long white coat and using a cane, he took a seat in the front row next to Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai, patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church.

Retired Pope Benedict XVI greets Pope Francis at the conclusion of a consistory at which Pope Francis created 19 new cardinals in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican Feb. 22. Pope Benedict’s presence at the ceremony marked the first time he had joined Pope Francis for a public liturgy. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Benedict’s presence at the consistory Feb. 22, the feast of the Chair of Peter, marked the first time he had joined Pope Francis for a public prayer service in the basilica. Pope Benedict resigned Feb. 28, 2013, becoming the first pope in almost 600 years to do so.

Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, said all the already existing cardinals went over to greet Pope Benedict. “The ushers kept saying, ‘Please, your eminences, take your seats, the Holy Father is coming,’ and we thought, ‘But, but ….’”

Before beginning the service, Pope Francis walked over to Pope Benedict, who removed his zucchetto to greet Pope Francis. The scene was repeated at the end of the consistory.

The new cardinals, including Cardinal Gerald Lacroix of Quebec and Vincent Nichols of Westminster, England, publicly recited the Creed and swore obedience to the pope and his successors before receiving from Pope Francis a red hat, a ring and the assignment of a “titular church” in Rome, becoming part of the clergy of the pope’s diocese.

After they received their red hats, each of the new cardinals walked over to Pope Benedict and greeted him.

Cardinal Lacroix, accompanied by his mother and father at an afternoon reception, said Pope Benedict’s presence “surprised me so much that I broke down in tears.”

When he went to greet the retired pope, he said he told him, “Holy Father, you are the one who called me to be a bishop.”

Only 18 of the archbishops Pope Francis had chosen to be among the first cardinals created during his pontificate were present.

The oldest of the new cardinals, and now the oldest cardinal in the world, Cardinal Loris Capovilla, 98, was not present at the ceremony although he became a cardinal the moment Pope Francis pronounced his name. A papal delegate will deliver his red hat to his home in northern Italy.

In his homily Pope Francis did not mention the standard point that the cardinals’ new red vestments are symbols of the call to serve Christ and his church to the point of shedding their blood if necessary. Rather, he focused on their being called to follow Christ more closely, to build up the unity of the church and to proclaim the Gospel more courageously.

The Bible, he said, is filled with stories of Jesus walking with his disciples and teaching them as they traveled.

“This is important,” the pope said. “Jesus did not come to teach a philosophy, an ideology, but rather a ‘way,’ a journey to be undertaken with him, and we learn the way as we go, by walking.”

After listening to a reading of Mark 10:32-45, Pope Francis also spoke about the very human, worldly temptation of “rivalry, jealousy (and) factions” the first disciples faced.

The reading is a warning to the cardinals and to all Christians to put aside concerns of power and favoritism and “to become ever more of one heart and soul” gathered around the Lord, he said.

Pope Francis told the new cardinals, who come from 15 different countries, including very poor nations like Haiti and Ivory Coast, that the church “needs you, your cooperation and, even more, your communion, communion with me and among yourselves.”

“The church needs your courage,” he said, “to proclaim the Gospel at all times” and “to bear witness to the truth.”

The pope also told the cardinals that the church needs their “compassion, especially at this time of pain and suffering for so many countries throughout the world,” and for so many Christians who face discrimination and persecution. “We must struggle against all discrimination,” he said.

“The church needs us also to be peacemakers, building peace by our actions, hopes and prayers,” he said.

The consistory brought to 218 the total number of cardinals in the world; 122 cardinals are under the age of 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave.

The 18 cardinals who received their red hats from the pope were Cardinals:

• Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, Italian, 59.

• Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops, Italian, 73.

• Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, German, 66.

• Beniamino Stella, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, Italian, 72.

• Vincent Nichols, archbishop of Westminster, England, 68.

• Leopoldo Brenes Solorzano of Managua, Nicaragua, 64.

• Gerald Lacroix of Quebec, 56.

• Jean-Pierre Kutwa of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, 68.

• Orani Tempesta of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 63.

• Gualtiero Bassetti of Perguia-Citta della Pieve, Italy, 71.

• Mario Poli of Buenos Aires, Argentina, 66.

• Andrew Yeom Soo-jung of Seoul, South Korea, 70.

• Ricardo Ezzati Andrello of Santiago, Chile, 72.

• Philippe Ouedraogo of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, 69.

• Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato, Philippines, 74.

• Chibly Langlois of Les Cayes, Haiti, 55.

• Fernando Sebastian Aguilar, retired archbishop of Pamplona, Spain, 84.

• Kelvin Felix, retired archbishop of Castries, St. Lucia, Antilles, 81.

 

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Reflection: Having more while possessing less

February 23rd, 2014 Posted in Opinion Tags:

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Twenty years ago, Maura Cardona joined a program to train health promoters who would provide basic medical care and hygiene education for Guatemalan communities throughout the San Marcos area.

Today, she is as a model for what is possible in San Marcos, a country that hugs Guatemala’s border with Mexico from the coastal plains along the Pacific Ocean to the volcanic mountain highlands.  Read more »

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Rachel’s Vineyard retreat offers healing for women after abortions

February 22nd, 2014 Posted in Our Diocese Tags: , ,

By

Dialog Editor

 

“Thus says the Lord: In Ramah is heard the sound of sobbing, bitter weeping!

Rachel mourns for her children, she refuses to be consoled for her children—they are no more!

“Thus says the Lord: Cease your cries of weeping, hold back your tears! There is compensation for your labor … they shall return from the enemy’s land. There is hope for your future … your children shall return to their own territory.”

— Jeremiah 31:15-17

Rachel’s Vineyard is a weekend retreat program designed to help women come to terms with an abortion in their past.

The confidential retreats help in healing the emotional and spiritual wounds of women and men who have had or were involved in past abortions. Read more »

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Opposing the death penalty is ‘pro-life’: Advocacy group renews bishop’s call to repeal Delaware death penalty

By

Staff reporter

 

A diocesan group is asking Delaware Catholics to contact state legislators to urge them to follow the example set last year by Maryland and repeal the death penalty in the First State.

The Delaware Catholic Advocacy Network (DCAN) issued the “action alert” on Feb. 10. Read more »

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St. Mary Magdalen grad named state’s top athlete

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Staff reporter

 

NEW CASTLE – Paul Worrilow, a graduate of St. Mary Magdalen School who recently completed his first season in the National Football League, was named the John J. Brady Athlete of the Year by the Delaware Sportswriters and Broadcasters Association at the organization’s annual banquet Feb. 17 at the Sheraton Wilmington South hotel. Read more »

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Responses to Vatican survey on family show suffering by those who feel excluded, official says

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The responses to the Vatican questionnaire about Catholics’ family life reflect a great amount of suffering around the world, said the general secretary of the synod.

As of Feb. 19, about 80 percent of the world’s bishops’ conferences and 60 percent of the Vatican congregations and councils had turned in formal responses to a questionnaire distributed by the synod office in October.

Cardinals-designate Vincent Nichols of Westminster, center, and Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops, talk before Pope Francis leads a meeting of cardinals in the synod hall at the Vatican Feb. 20. The pope asked the world’s cardinals and those about to be made cardinals to meet at the Vatican Feb. 20-21 to discuss the church’s pastoral approach to the family. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Cardinal-designate Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the synod, told the Vatican newspaper Feb. 21 that the responses show “much suffering, especially by those who feel excluded or abandoned by the church because they find themselves in a state of life that does not correspond to the church’s doctrine and discipline.”

The volume of responses, which also include about 700 submissions from Catholic groups and individuals, demonstrates great interest in the synod’s plans to discuss the family when it meets at the Vatican Oct. 5-19, said the general secretary.

By urging bishops around the world to conduct the broadest consultation possible given the brief amount of time allotted, synod officials “sparked a spontaneous reaction that may seem surprising, but is actually proof of how necessary it is to go out of our offices” to where people really live, he said.

The results compiled by the bishops’ conferences, he said, show “the urgency of recognizing the lived reality of the people and of beginning a pastoral dialogue with those who have distanced themselves from the church for various reasons.”

Simply by distributing the questionnaire so widely and inviting everyone to respond, he said, “a process has been opened for restoring the trust many have lost.”

Pope Francis, he said, “shows, day after day, a new human and Christian approach that stimulates people and prepares them to listen and to accept what is good for them, even if there is suffering.”

 

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