Skip to comments.Ryan’s ‘Dissent’ (Does his “dissent” from “Catholic Social Teaching” make him not a good Catholic?)
Posted on 08/15/2012 7:32:53 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
Michael Sean Winters, blogging for the National Catholic Reporter, has written a lengthy piece asserting that Paul Ryans dissent from Catholic Social Teaching makes him a not very good Catholic and a dangerous choice for vice president.
Others are far more qualified than I to discuss Catholic social teaching and Ryans understanding of it (see, e.g., Michael Novak, Jesuits Rebuke Ryan, and George Weigel, Ryan vs. Georgetown). But Mr. Winters begins his piece with an account of William F. Buckley Jr.s dissent from Catholic social teaching, and that account is wrong in nearly every particular. That, I am qualified to discuss, as the co-author of a biography of Buckley and co-editor of a major anthology of his work.
It is true, as Mr. Winters says, that Buckley published a critique of Blessed Pope John XXIIIs encyclical Mater et Magistra. But the critique was not entitled Going the rounds in conservative circles: Mater, sí, Magistra, no. That line appeared as the final zinger in a short, staff-written column called For the Record (and by the way, it reads Going the rounds in Catholic conservative circles . . .). Buckleys critique had appeared, as an unsigned editorial paragraph, in the previous issue of National Review (July 29, 1961), and its gravamen was that the encyclical simply failed, in applying Catholic social teaching to the postwar world, to take adequate account of facts such as the continuing and demonic successes of the Communists, the extraordinary material well-being that such free economic systems as Japans, West Germanys, and our own are generating, and the dehumanization, under technology-cum-statism, of the individuals role in life. Buckley amplified his points two issues later in a signed editorial entitled The Strange Behavior of America. This editorial includes the line, splendidly apposite to the attacks on Paul Ryan, There is room for disagreement as to whether a particular social measure is dehumanizing in its tendency: Catholics can disagree on the matter.
Back to Mater, sí: The phrase did come, as Mr. Winters says, from Garry Wills, but what does it mean to describe him as not yet converted? From what to what? From conservatism to radicalism? Because when it comes to religion, Mr. Wills (as he would later write in Bare Ruined Choirs) is a cradle Catholic, and he remains a Catholic to this day.
Finally, Mr. Winters describes the Mater, sí incident as the first significant instance of public dissent from the magisterium of the Church by an American public intellectual. Well, I believe Buckley would have been considered a public intellectual when he first publicly criticized an encyclical, nine years earlier. He wrote, in The Catholic World (August 1952): Thus, while, as I state, I cannot believe the Holy Father could approve of the march of our government down a road that weakens the prestige of religion, the institution of the family, the institution of private property, and the principle of subsidiarity, I readily admit that I am confused by some of the statements that appear in the social encyclicals. And to the extent that I am, I suppose I am open to Father Fullmans censure. For example, I am filled with horror at the possible interpretations of Pius XIIs statement (from Summi Pontificatus), Hence, it is the noble prerogative and function of the State so to control, aid and direct the private and individual activities of national life that they converge harmoniously toward the common good.
Six years after Mater et Magistra, Buckley wrote another passage that bears directly on laffaire Ryan: Pope Paul VI has released an unfortunate encyclical (Populorum Progressio), particularly unfortunate because its naïveté in economic and other secular matters drowns out passages of eloquence which, had they gone unencumbered by confused and confusing ideological detritus, might have served to remind the responsible community of the inspiring ardor of the popes passion for human reconciliation and the exercise of charity on a universal scale. . . .
It all reminds one of St. Thomas Aquinass warning that, outside the field of morals and doctrine, the Church is quite capable of erring, propter falsos testeson account of bad information. Those who have worked hardest and most productively for the diminution of human misery and know that the preconditions are (1) political stability and (2) economic freedom will be disappointed not by the goals, exquisitely described by the pope, but by the suggested means, illusory and self-defeating, which if followed would have the contrary effect to that desired by this intense and holy man.
Dissent, sí, disrespect for the Magisterium, no.
Linda Bridges, editor-at-large at National Review, is the co-author, with John R. Coyne Jr., of Strictly Right: William F. Buckley Jr. and the American Conservative Movement, and the co-editor, with Roger Kimball, of Athwart History: Half a Century of Polemics, Animadversions, and Illuminations: A William F. Buckley Jr. Omnibus.
FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO KNOW HIS RECORD AND WHAT HE STANDS FOR...
Paul Ryan on Abortion
Voted YES on banning federal health coverage that includes abortion. (May 2011)
Voted NO on expanding research to more embryonic stem cell lines. (Jan 2007)
Voted NO on allowing human embryonic stem cell research. (May 2005)
Voted YES on restricting interstate transport of minors to get abortions. (Apr 2005)
Voted YES on making it a crime to harm a fetus during another crime. (Feb 2004)
Voted YES on banning partial-birth abortion except to save mothers life. (Oct 2003)
Voted YES on forbidding human cloning for reproduction & medical research. (Feb 2003)
Voted YES on funding for health providers who dont provide abortion info. (Sep 2002)
Voted YES on banning Family Planning funding in US aid abroad. (May 2001)
Voted YES on federal crime to harm fetus while committing other crimes. (Apr 2001)
Voted YES on banning partial-birth abortions. (Apr 2000)
Voted YES on barring transporting minors to get an abortion. (Jun 1999)
Rated 0% by NARAL, indicating a pro-life voting record. (Dec 2003)
Rated 100% by the NRLC, indicating a pro-life stance. (Dec 2006)
Prohibit transporting minors across state lines for abortion. (Jan 2008)
Bar funding for abortion under federal Obamacare plans. (Jul 2010)
Prohibit federal funding for abortion. (May 2011)
Congress shall protect life beginning with fertilization. (Jan 2011)
Prohibit federal funding to groups like Planned Parenthood. (Jan 2011)
Grant the pre-born equal protection under 14th Amendment. (Jan 2007)
Paul Ryan on Budget & Economy
Stimulus spending spree created debt but few jobs. (Jan 2011)
America is on an unsustainable fiscal path. (Sep 2010)
Automatic stabilizer spending is mandatory spending. (Jan 2010)
Freeze spending now, rather than in future budget. (Jan 2010)
Road Map for Americas Future: cut entitlement spending. (Jul 2009)
Voted YES on terminating the Home Affordable mortgage Program. (Mar 2011)
Voted YES on $192B additional anti-recession stimulus spending. (Jul 2009)
Voted NO on modifying bankruptcy rules to avoid mortgage foreclosures. (Mar 2009)
Voted NO on additional $825 billion for economic recovery package. (Jan 2009)
Voted NO on monitoring TARP funds to ensure more mortgage relief. (Jan 2009)
Voted YES on $15B bailout for GM and Chrysler. (Dec 2008)
Voted NO on $60B stimulus package for jobs, infrastructure, & energy. (Sep 2008)
Voted NO on defining energy emergency on federal gas prices. (Jun 2008)
Voted NO on revitalizing severely distressed public housing. (Jan 2008)
Voted NO on regulating the subprime mortgage industry. (Nov 2007)
Voted YES on restricting bankruptcy rules. (Jan 2004)
Balanced Budget Amendment with 3/5 vote to override. (Jan 2009)
Member of the House Republican Economic Recovery Working Group. (Sep 2010)
Chair of House Budget Committee. (Mar 2011)
Paul Ryan on Crime
Voted NO on enforcing against anti-gay hate crimes. (Apr 2009)
Voted NO on expanding services for offenders re-entry into society. (Nov 2007)
Voted NO on funding for alternative sentencing instead of more prisons. (Jun 2000)
Voted YES on more prosecution and sentencing for juvenile crime. (Jun 1999)
Rated 30% by CURE, indicating anti-rehabilitation crime votes. (Dec 2000)
Paul Ryan on Energy & Oil
Voted YES on opening Outer Continental Shelf to oil drilling. (May 2011)
Voted YES on barring EPA from regulating greenhouse gases. (Apr 2011)
Voted NO on enforcing limits on CO2 global warming pollution. (Jun 2009)
Voted NO on tax credits for renewable electricity, with PAYGO offsets. (Sep 2008)
Voted NO on tax incentives for energy production and conservation. (May 2008)
Voted NO on tax incentives for renewable energy. (Feb 2008)
Voted NO on investing in homegrown biofuel. (Aug 2007)
Voted YES on criminalizing oil cartels like OPEC. (May 2007)
Voted NO on removing oil & gas exploration subsidies. (Jan 2007)
Voted NO on keeping moratorium on drilling for oil offshore. (Jun 2006)
Voted YES on scheduling permitting for new oil refinieries. (Jun 2006)
Voted YES on authorizing construction of new oil refineries. (Oct 2005)
Voted NO on passage of the Bush Administration national energy policy. (Jun 2004)
Voted NO on implementing Bush-Cheney national energy policy. (Nov 2003)
Voted NO on raising CAFE standards; incentives for alternative fuels. (Aug 2001)
Voted NO on prohibiting oil drilling & development in ANWR. (Aug 2001)
Voted NO on starting implementation of Kyoto Protocol. (Jun 2000)
Rated 0% by the CAF, indicating opposition to energy independence. (Dec 2006)
Bar greenhouse gases from Clean Air Act rules. (Jan 2009)
Drill the Outer Continental Shelf; & license new nuke plants. (Mar 2011)
Paul Ryan on Environment
Voted NO on $2 billion more for Cash for Clunkers program. (Jul 2009)
Voted NO on protecting free-roaming horses and burros. (Jul 2009)
Voted NO on environmental education grants for outdoor experiences. (Sep 2008)
Voted NO on $9.7B for Amtrak improvements and operation thru 2013. (Jun 2008)
Voted NO on increasing AMTRAK funding by adding $214M to $900M. (Jun 2006)
Voted NO on barring website promoting Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump. (May 2006)
Voted YES on deauthorizing critical habitat for endangered species. (Sep 2005)
Voted YES on speeding up approval of forest thinning projects. (Nov 2003)
Rated 10% by the LCV, indicating anti-environment votes. (Dec 2003)
Inter-state compact for Great Lakes water resources. (Jul 2008)
Make tax deduction permanent for conservation easements. (Mar 2009)
Rated 13% by HSLF, indicating an anti-animal welfare voting record. (Jan 2012)
Strengthen prohibitions against animal fighting. (Jan 2007)
Paul Ryan on Foreign Policy
America is the most pro-human idea ever conceived. (Sep 2010)
Voted NO on supporting democratic institutions in Pakistan. (Jun 2009)
Voted YES on cooperating with India as a nuclear power. (Sep 2008)
Voted NO on deterring foreign arms transfers to China. (Jul 2005)
Voted YES on reforming the UN by restricting US funding. (Jun 2005)
Voted YES on keeping Cuba travel ban until political prisoners released. (Jul 2001)
Voted YES on withholding $244M in UN Back Payments until US seat restored. (May 2001)
Voted NO on $156M to IMF for 3rd-world debt reduction. (Jul 2000)
Voted YES on Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China. (May 2000)
Voted NO on $15.2 billion for foreign operations. (Nov 1999)
Multi-year commitment to Africa for food & medicine. (Apr 2001)
Withhold UN funding until voluntary and program-specific. (Aug 2011)
Rated -3 by AAI, indicating a anti-Arab anti-Palestine voting record. (May 2012)
Acknowledge the Armenian Genocide of the early 1900s. (Mar 2007)
Acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, as official US policy. (Mar 2009)
Commitment to unbreakable U.S.-Israel bond. (Mar 2010)
Paul Ryan on Health Care
Open-ended healthcare entitlement moves US toward bankruptcy. (Jan 2011)
Washington Way: closed-door deals & one-party votes. (Sep 2010)
ObamaCare passed with no GOP support & split Democrats. (Sep 2010)
For tax credits; high-risk pools; & regulatory reform. (Sep 2010)
Medicare is a $38 trillion unfunded liabilityadd vouchers. (Jan 2010)
Road Map: buy health insurance from any state in the country. (Jul 2009)
Replace Medicare with $9500/year private insurance payment. (Jul 2009)
Voted YES on the Ryan Budget: Medicare choice, tax & spending cuts. (Apr 2011)
Voted YES on repealing the Prevention and Public Health slush fund. (Apr 2011)
Voted NO on regulating tobacco as a drug. (Apr 2009)
Voted NO on expanding the Childrens Health Insurance Program. (Jan 2009)
Voted YES on overriding veto on expansion of Medicare. (Jul 2008)
Voted NO on giving mental health full equity with physical health. (Mar 2008)
Voted NO on Veto override: Extend SCHIP to cover 6M more kids. (Jan 2008)
Voted NO on adding 2 to 4 million children to SCHIP eligibility. (Oct 2007)
Voted NO on requiring negotiated Rx prices for Medicare part D. (Jan 2007)
Voted YES on denying non-emergency treatment for lack of Medicare co-pay. (Feb 2006)
Voted YES on limiting medical malpractice lawsuits to $250,000 damages. (May 2004)
Voted YES on limited prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients. (Nov 2003)
Voted YES on allowing reimportation of prescription drugs. (Jul 2003)
Voted YES on small business associations for buying health insurance. (Jun 2003)
Voted YES on capping damages & setting time limits in medical lawsuits. (Mar 2003)
Voted YES on allowing suing HMOs, but under federal rules & limited award. (Aug 2001)
Voted YES on subsidizing private insurance for Medicare Rx drug coverage. (Jun 2000)
Voted YES on banning physician-assisted suicide. (Oct 1999)
Voted YES on establishing tax-exempt Medical Savings Accounts. (Oct 1999)
Rated 11% by APHA, indicating a anti-public health voting record. (Dec 2003)
Repeal the Job-Killing Health Care Law. (Jan 2011)
Paul Ryan on Immigration
Voted YES on building a fence along the Mexican border. (Sep 2006)
Voted YES on preventing tipping off Mexicans about Minuteman Project. (Jun 2006)
Voted NO on reporting illegal aliens who receive hospital treatment. (May 2004)
Voted YES on extending Immigrant Residency rules. (May 2001)
Rated 0% by FAIR, indicating a voting record loosening immigration. (Dec 2003)
Comprehensive immigration reform without amnesty. (May 2005)
Rated 83% by USBC, indicating a sealed-border stance. (Dec 2006)
Paul Ryan on Jobs
Voted YES on extending unemployment benefits from 39 weeks to 59 weeks. (Oct 2008)
Voted NO on overriding presidential veto of Farm Bill. (Jun 2008)
Voted NO on restricting employer interference in union organizing. (Mar 2007)
Voted NO on increasing minimum wage to $7.25. (Jan 2007)
Voted YES on end offshore tax havens and promote small business. (Oct 2004)
Voted NO on $167B over 10 years for farm price supports. (Oct 2001)
Voted YES on zero-funding OSHAs Ergonomics Rules instead of $4.5B. (Mar 2001)
Rated 7% by the AFL-CIO, indicating an anti-union voting record. (Dec 2003)
Allow an Air Traffic Controllers Union. (Jan 2006)
Rated 58% by CEI, indicating a mixed voting record on Big Labor. (May 2012)
Paul Ryan on Social Security
Only younger members in Congress support reform. (Nov 2010)
Invest 1/3 of payroll tax in personal savings account. (Sep 2010)
Comprehensive model to restructure retirement accounts. (May 2010)
Road Map: invest 5.1% income into personal account. (Jul 2009)
Proposed bill to invest 50% of FICA in personal accounts. (Dec 2007)
Voted YES on raising 401(k) limits & making pension plans more portable. (May 2001)
Voted YES on reducing tax payments on Social Security benefits. (Jul 2000)
Voted NO on strengthening the Social Security Lockbox. (May 1999)
Rated 10% by the ARA, indicating an anti-senior voting record. (Dec 2003)
Paul Ryan on Tax Reform
Road Map: simplified two-level flat tax. (Jul 2009)
Voted NO on extending AMT exemptions to avoid hitting middle-income. (Jun 2008)
Voted NO on paying for AMT relief by closing offshore business loopholes. (Dec 2007)
Voted YES on retaining reduced taxes on capital gains & dividends. (Dec 2005)
Voted YES on providing tax relief and simplification. (Sep 2004)
Voted YES on making permanent an increase in the child tax credit. (May 2004)
Voted YES on permanently eliminating the marriage penalty. (Apr 2004)
Voted YES on making the Bush tax cuts permanent. (Apr 2002)
Voted YES on $99 B economic stimulus: capital gains & income tax cuts. (Oct 2001)
Voted YES on Tax cut package of $958 B over 10 years. (May 2001)
Voted YES on eliminating the Estate Tax (death tax). (Apr 2001)
Voted YES on eliminating the marriage penalty. (Jul 2000)
Voted YES on $46 billion in tax cuts for small business. (Mar 2000)
Phaseout the death tax. (Mar 2001)
Rated 72% by NTU, indicating Satisfactory on tax votes. (Dec 2003)
Rated 0% by the CTJ, indicating opposition to progressive taxation. (Dec 2006)
Taxpayer Protection Pledge: no new taxes. (Aug 2010)
Member of House Ways and Means Committee. (Mar 2011)
Supports the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. (Jan 2012)
Paul Ryan on War & Peace
Voted YES on banning armed forces in Libya without Congressional approval. (Jun 2011)
Voted NO on removing US armed forces from Afghanistan. (Mar 2011)
Voted NO on investigating Bush impeachment for lying about Iraq. (Jun 2008)
Voted NO on redeploying US troops out of Iraq starting in 90 days. (May 2007)
Voted YES on declaring Iraq part of War on Terror with no exit date. (Jun 2006)
Voted YES on approving removal of Saddam & valiant service of US troops. (Mar 2004)
Voted YES on authorizing military force in Iraq. (Oct 2002)
Voted YES on disallowing the invasion of Kosovo. (May 1999)
Strengthen sanctions on Syria & assist democratic transition. (Apr 2008)
No contact & enforce sanctions on Iran until threat is gone. (May 2011)
Boycott & sanctions against Iran for terrorism & nukes. (May 2011)
Sanctions on Iran to end nuclear program. (Apr 2009)
Paul Ryan on Families & Children
Voted NO on four weeks of paid parental leave for federal employees. (Jun 2009)
Voted YES on establishing nationwide AMBER alert system for missing kids. (Apr 2003)
Voted YES on reducing Marriage Tax by $399B over 10 years. (Mar 2001)
Rated 91% by the Christian Coalition: a pro-Family-Value voting record. (Dec 2003)
Paul Ryan on Civil Rights
Voted YES on prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation. (Nov 2007)
Voted YES on Constitutionally defining marriage as one-man-one-woman. (Jul 2006)
Voted YES on making the PATRIOT Act permanent. (Dec 2005)
Voted YES on Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage. (Sep 2004)
Voted YES on protecting the Pledge of Allegiance. (Sep 2004)
Voted YES on banning gay adoptions in DC. (Jul 1999)
Supports anti-flag desecration amendment. (Mar 2001)
Rated 13% by the ACLU, indicating an anti-civil rights voting record. (Dec 2002)
Rated 0% by the HRC, indicating an anti-gay-rights stance. (Dec 2006)
Rated 36% by NAACP, indicating a mixed record on affirmative-action. (Dec 2006)
Michael Sean Winters, blogging for the National Catholic Reporter, has written a lengthy piece asserting that Paul Ryans dissent from Catholic Social Teaching makes him a not very good Catholic and a dangerous choice for vice president.
Has Michael Sean Winters made any comment about Nancy Pelosi’s pro-abortion policy?
If that doesn't work, the leftists will dig up some MacDonald's hamburger flipper that will claim he sexually harrassed her in the freezer when he worked there.
I just KNOW it!
On the other hand, I kinda like "ministery". Since O'Goebbels is actually the Messiah on Earth I'm sure he'd approve of the work "minister" in there somewhere. It's all so churchy and Christian.
humph, do more reading? You mean read the history of where Catholicism has been and what they’ve done? Look, you Catholics simply need to stop trying to use government to perform your convictions. The more you get government to perform religious duties, the more duties government lays on the governed... Social Justice is unachievable in this life, those who try, simply end up imprisoning some so others can be freed... who wouldn’t want to be in charge of that...
I also learned that “propter falsos testes” did not mean what I thought it meant!
Like the writer said, she, more than anyone, ought to know where Buckley stood, and that none of his testes were ever falsos.
Ryan is just fine with his adherence to Catholicism.
He does not disagree with Catholic social thought. He rejects Catholic wing nut economic and political communist thought. Most Catholics do as does the Bible.
Rep. Ryan should wear that as a badge of honour. If Jesuits are rebuking you, these days, it's likely because you're being Catholic.
Thanks for the links! I’ll read them when I get home from work this evening!
2431 The responsibility of the state. "Economic activity, especially the activity of a market economy, cannot be conducted in an institutional, juridical, or political vacuum. On the contrary, it presupposes sure guarantees of individual freedom and private property, as well as a stable currency and efficient public services. Hence the principal task of the state is to guarantee this security, so that those who work and produce can enjoy the fruits of their labors and thus feel encouraged to work efficiently and honestly.... Another task of the state is that of overseeing and directing the exercise of human rights in the economic sector. However, primary responsibility in this area belongs not to the state but to individuals and to the various groups and associations which make up society." - Catechism of the Catholic Church
Just Say No to Nannies has proved the point. And really, instead of generalizing in way that gets people’s gander rightly up, if you’d left it at the comment about Socialist Democratic Catholics, you’d have gotten my agreement, and probably lots of other folks, too. There ARE some of that particular stripe, and they do need correction, at the least. The Nancy Pelosi’s, Ted Kennedy’s, those folks are in the wrong in many ways, including their actions overtly against Church teachings. On those, I cannot, and will not disagree with you. But really, the rest? Overboard. And, lest you think otherwise, I am not attempting to cast aspersions, so much as correcting a wildly inaccurate statement. In other words, “fixed that for you.”
The USCCB called out Ryan for his budget.
Catholics who were not going to vote for Obama because of the HHS mandate are now being pushed out of voting for Romney because of Ryan. Heard it at my wife's parish over the weekend, and from family members.
I find it very interesting that the Bishops tremble in fear of offending Pelosi, but slam Ryan. To may Catholic friends, you need to start asking some very serious questions about just what your bishops believe.
Just like many Evangelicals have sold their soul to the GOP, many Catholics have sold their soul to the DNC.
Since the topic of Socialist Democratic “Catholics” has been raised, it seems appropriate to recall what Pope Pius XI wrote: “If Socialism, like all errors, contains some truth (which, moreover, the Supreme Pontiffs have never denied), it is based nevertheless on a theory of human society peculiar to itself and irreconcilable with true Christianity. Religious socialism, Christian socialism, are contradictory terms; no one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist.” (Encyclical QUADRAGESIMO ANNO)
My opinion is my opinion, the only way to change that is for the Catholic Church to stop trying to order society through the state, calling it charity when using someone else’s resources. Reduce the state,ie government, preach and teach personal responsibility from the pulpit and leave the rest of us the hell alone.
Winters is the author of Left At the Altar: How Democrats Lost The Catholics And How Catholics Can Save The Democrats.
He has often written from the perspective of progressive Christianity, opposing various conservative elements within the Catholic Church on topics such as the politics of abortion or the ordination of gay priests.
His biography of the Rev. Jerry Falwell, God’s Right Hand: How Jerry Falwell Made God a Republican and Baptized the American Right was published by Harper One in January 2012 to critical acclaim.
Last I knew the Greek fathers are still regarded as Fathers of the Church by you Latins, and Pope Benedict XVI is given to quoting them and preaching on them to a greater extent perhaps than any Pope of Rome since the ninth century (yes, I meant ninth, not eleventh), so for the benefit of any of you who need to argue with "Catholic Worker" types, here is a quote from the Golden-Mouth of which I'm rather fond, and have posted here before:
Should we look to kings and princes to put right the inequalities between rich and poor? Should we require soldiers to come and seize the rich persons gold and distribute it among his destitute neighbors? Should we beg the emperor to impose a tax on the rich so great that it reduces them to the level of the poor and then to share the proceeds of that tax among everyone? Equality imposed by force would achieve nothing, and do much harm. Those who combined both cruel hearts and sharp minds would soon find ways of making themselves rich again.
Worse still, the rich whose gold was taken away would feel bitter and resentful; while the poor who received the gold from the hands of soldiers would feel no gratitude, because no generosity would have prompted the gift. Far from bringing moral benefit to society, it would actually do moral harm. Material justice cannot be accomplished by compulsion, a change of heart will not follow. The only way to achieve true justice is to change peoples hearts firstand then they will joyfully share their wealth.
- St. John Chrysostom on the poor from On Living Simply XLIII
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