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A married man is ordained a Maronite Catholic priest
religionnews.com ^ | Feb 28, 2014 | Sally Morrow

Posted on 03/01/2014 4:51:07 AM PST by Gamecock

Wissam Akiki is a Catholic priest and a married man.

The pews were packed Thursday (Feb. 27) as Akiki became the first married man in the Maronite Catholic Church ordained into the priesthood in the United States with the blessing of the pope.

Bishop Elias Zaidan of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles, which is based in St. Louis, led the ordination ceremony held at St. Raymond’s Maronite Cathedral.

Manal Kassab, who has been married to Akiki for about a decade, and their daughter, Perla, 8, were also present.

Akiki had been a deacon at St. Raymond’s since 2009 and worked as the assistant to the bishop.

The Maronite Catholic Church, with roots in Lebanon and the Middle East, is part of a larger group of 22 Catholic churches belonging to the Eastern rite. Unlike the Orthodox Catholic Church, Eastern Catholic churches recognize the authority of the pope and are in communion with Rome.

In Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere, many Eastern Catholic priests are married, but since the 1920s the practice has generally been banned in the U.S.

Eastern Catholic churches that have sought to ordain a married man for priestly ministry in the U.S. have typically petitioned Rome for permission, though until recently, the Vatican response has usually been a resounding “no.”

Some wonder whether opening up priestly ordination to married men in the Eastern rite will swing the doors open for Roman Catholic men.

Adam Deville, a professor at the University of St. Francis in Fort Wayne, Ind., who focuses on the Christian East, said the Maronite Church has traditionally taken a conservative stance on the issue of married priests in the U.S. and sees Akiki’s ordination as momentous.

It’s like conservative Republican politician Rick Santorum’s coming out in favor of gay marriage, Deville said.

The Maronite Church is “the most conservative and the least willing to rock the boat on this question,” said Deville. “If they can do it, anyone can do it.”

Ines Angeli Murzaku, a professor of church history in the Department of Catholic Studies at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, agreed that the ordination is significant but added that she doesn’t think the move is “breathtaking and would mean an immediate lift of the ban.”

“It seems to me that the pope is responding … on a case-by-case basis,” she said.

In the early centuries of Christianity, it was common for priests to be married, though churches in both the East and West have always valued celibacy.

Over time it became the norm for priests in the West to remain unmarried, though that tradition never took hold in Eastern churches. Catholic bishops, whether part of the Eastern or Latin rite, however, have always been expected to remain celibate, as are unmarried men who already serve as priests.

Some argue that the Roman Catholic Church has been reluctant to ordain married men for the priesthood not solely for theological reasons — such as the argument that an unwed priest is more like Jesus Christ himself — but for practical reasons as well.

Dragani of Mount Aloysius College, for example, pointed out that priests are often moved around like chess pieces so they can care for different parishes, which can complicate married life. Supporting married Catholic priests is also more expensive.

There is, however, a little-known pastoral provision, created by Pope John Paul II in 1980, which has allowed married Episcopal priests to enter ministry in the Roman Catholic Church. Still, married Roman Catholic priests are the exception rather than the rule.

Akiki, for his part, said that without his family his ordination would not have been possible.


TOPICS: General Discusssion
KEYWORDS:

Manal Akiki greets her husband Wissam George Akiki after his ordination as a priest at St. Raymond Cathedral in St. Louis on Thursday evening, Feb. 27, 2014. For use with RNS-MARONITE-PRIEST, transmitted on February 28, 2014, Photo by J.B. Forbes, courtesy of St. Louis Post-Dispatch
1 posted on 03/01/2014 4:51:07 AM PST by Gamecock
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To: metmom; Alex Murphy

**In the early centuries of Christianity, it was common for priests to be married, though churches in both the East and West have always valued celibacy.**

Whatever happened to that tradition?


2 posted on 03/01/2014 4:51:59 AM PST by Gamecock
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To: Gamecock

...ask any former Episcopalian.


3 posted on 03/01/2014 4:53:45 AM PST by ThePatriotsFlag ("There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide." - Thomas Jefferson)
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To: ThePatriotsFlag
Why? Were Episcopalians around in 32 A.D.?
4 posted on 03/01/2014 4:57:16 AM PST by Gamecock
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To: Gamecock; NYer
Thank you for posting this article, Gamecock.

One paragraph to be clarified (from the article):

Over time it became the norm for priests in the West to remain unmarried, though that tradition never took hold in Eastern churches. Catholic bishops, whether part of the Eastern or Latin rite, however, have always been expected to remain celibate, as are unmarried men who already serve as priests.

(pinging NYer, who worships in a Maronite parish, for validation of the following)

Married people are allowed to be clergy, but clergy must not be married after their ordination (that holds true for both Eastern Churches and Latin Churches, where married permanent deacons are allowed).

Although a married presbyteriate and diaconate are allowed in Eastern Churches, the episcopate must all be celibate. (The following is the part that I want to get verified by NYer) To my understanding, the reason for this is that taking monastic vows, including celibacy, is a requirement for being elected to the episcopate.

If my understanding of that requirement of the episcopate in the Eastern Churches is correct, I'm honestly not sure about the background of that (as I do not claim to be any kind of a subject matter expert on Eastern Christianity). Perhaps NYer can expound some on the background and rationale of that.

5 posted on 03/01/2014 5:02:38 AM PST by markomalley (Nothing emboldens the wicked so greatly as the lack of courage on the part of the good -- Leo XIII)
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To: Gamecock
It’s like conservative Republican politician Rick Santorum’s coming out in favor of gay marriage, Deville said.

No. Not even close. Someone must have missed that part of the Bible where homosexuality is condemned as sin. To my recollection, marriage is not.

6 posted on 03/01/2014 5:17:13 AM PST by rjsimmon (1-20-2013 The Tree of Liberty Thirsts)
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To: rjsimmon

Exactly. Having only unmarried Maronite priests serving outside Lebanon was an administrative practice, not a question of doctrine or morality.

They may find that making an exception was a bad decision; only time will tell. If this doesn’t work out well, they can choose not to make any other exceptions.


7 posted on 03/01/2014 5:26:16 AM PST by Tax-chick (Lost to headquarters.)
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To: Gamecock

Catholics are always hypocritically accusing non-Catholics of having a profusion of differing theologies and denominations, when the Catholic Church is no different.


8 posted on 03/01/2014 5:27:19 AM PST by fwdude ( You cannot compromise with that which you must defeat.)
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To: Gamecock; NYer
"In the early centuries of Christianity, it was common for priests to be married" ... Whatever happened to that tradition?

The tradition, going very far back, in both East and West, Catholic and Orthodox, is that a cleric may not marry after ordination. That's a clarification of "common for priests to be married" -- common for married men to be ordained, never common for ordained men to be permitted to marry.

The difference is that, in the West, married men are ordained to the diaconate but not to the priesthood or the episcopacy; in the East, married men are ordained to the diaconate and priesthood, but not to the episcopacy.

The divergence goes back to the early 4th Century (Council of Elvira) or before.

Where did it come from? One claim is that married priests were supposed to fast from relations with their wives the night before offering the Eucharist. When daily Mass became the norm for priests in the West (it isn't traditionally the norm in the Byzantine church; NYer would know if it is in the Maronite church) that made married priests problematical.

Others argue that ordaining celibate men, or requiring married men to live in continence with their wives (with their wives' permission, one assumes) after ordination, was the original tradition, and that the Eastern practice is a derogation from that.

The oft-repeated canard that the Western requirement of celibacy dates only from the 12th Century, and had something to do with the inheritance of church property by priests' children, is clearly false and doesn't even make sense. The church's property was never the priest's to bequeath (whether or not he had children), and (diocesan) priests can bequeath their personal property to their heirs both then and today, just as you or I can.

9 posted on 03/01/2014 5:31:35 AM PST by Campion ("Social justice" begins in the womb)
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To: fwdude

You are wrong - THIS IS NOT A DOCTRINE. It is a discipline. It may loosely be called an administrative rule. It is analogous to a Protestant denomination switching from having a general assembly annually versus biannually - or requiring a Master’s degree or higher to be a Pastor.

Your assertions are wrong.


10 posted on 03/01/2014 5:34:24 AM PST by impimp
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To: fwdude; Gamecock
Catholics are always hypocritically accusing non-Catholics of having a profusion of differing theologies and denominations, when the Catholic Church is no different.

Wrong. Nice try, but wrong.

The 22 distinct churches in the Catholic church are all in communion with one another. I'm a Latin Rite Catholic; I can go to e.g., a Maronite or Byzantine Rite liturgy this Sunday*, receive the Lord Jesus in the Eucharist, and fulfill my Sunday obligation. Validly.

(*Well, I could if there were one near me, which there's not. :-( )

Ask Gamecock if he can attend church just as fruitfully in a United Methodist congregation this Sunday as he can in his PCA church.

All 22 churches are under a single earthly (and heavenly) authority. They all have the same theology, only sometimes with a different way of expressing the same truths.

Clerical celibacy is not a matter of theology, per se, but of discipline and prudential judgement.

By analogy, your argument is: "America is not one country, but 50. Arizona and Colorado have different governors and different laws. Americans are therefore hypocritical when they claim that there's such a thing as 'American patriotism' or 'American exceptionalism' or an 'American constitutional tradition'. Arizona and Colorado are no more united than Ethiopia and Kazakhstan." True or false?

11 posted on 03/01/2014 5:42:52 AM PST by Campion ("Social justice" begins in the womb)
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To: Campion; fwdude; xzins

***Ask Gamecock if he can attend church just as fruitfully in a United Methodist congregation this Sunday as he can in his PCA church.***

a. I am not PCA.
b. If I understand your use of the word fruitful to mean full participation, to include communion, I can do so in any paedobaptist Reformed church. I can do so in some Reformed Baptist churches, but not most Baptist churches. I cannot do so in LCMS churches.
c. As far as United Methodist Churches, I will have to defer to my favorite UMC pastor to answer that question.


12 posted on 03/01/2014 6:13:36 AM PST by Gamecock
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To: Gamecock; Campion; fwdude

We practice open communion in the United Methodist Church. For the most part, that’s a good thing, but some, in my opinion, don’t approach the Lord’s table with a thorough apprehension of the presence of the Lord....I would say that about some of our regular congregants as well. In either case, we leave it to the individual to verify his/her credentials with the Lord.

The bottom line, then, is that you would be welcome at our table and in our midst. And we are paedo-baptism.


13 posted on 03/01/2014 6:21:46 AM PST by xzins ( Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It! Those who truly support our troops pray for victory!)
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To: impimp
You are wrong - THIS IS NOT A DOCTRINE. It is a discipline. It may loosely be called an administrative rule. It is analogous to a Protestant denomination switching from having a general assembly annually versus biannually - or requiring a Master’s degree or higher to be a Pastor.

So then it can be changed, like an administrative rule...

14 posted on 03/01/2014 6:22:27 AM PST by Iscool (Ya mess with me, you mess with the WHOLE trailer park...)
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To: xzins

***we leave it to the individual to verify his/her credentials with the Lord.***

We do the same. It is up to each individual to examine their heart based on the warning of the pastor.


15 posted on 03/01/2014 6:30:28 AM PST by Gamecock
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To: Iscool

You are right. It can be changed. That does not mean that would be prudent to do.


16 posted on 03/01/2014 6:33:53 AM PST by impimp
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To: Gamecock

I also have the warning in the bulletin.


17 posted on 03/01/2014 6:48:16 AM PST by xzins ( Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It! Those who truly support our troops pray for victory!)
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To: Gamecock

In 1990`s the Bishop of the Oakland Diocese let a married Episcopalian priest become a Catholic priest to serve in the suburbs. He was married at the time with children.


18 posted on 03/01/2014 6:51:49 AM PST by bunkerhill7 ("The Second Amendment has no limits on firepower"-NY State Senator Kathleen A. Marchione.")
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To: Gamecock

Whatever happened to that tradition?
********************
It became impossible for poor congregations in the dark ages to support a priest and his family... simple economics.


19 posted on 03/01/2014 7:17:07 AM PST by Neidermeyer (I used to be disgusted , now I try to be amused.)
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To: Campion; Gamecock; fwdude
Rather than duplicate responses to separate freepers, I have included both in my response. Campion, you have provided an excellent explanation of the One, Holy and Apostolic Catholic Church. Let's put that into an image:

Although it is not widely known in our Western world, the Catholic Church is actually a communion of Churches. According to the Constitution on the Church of the Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, the Catholic Church is understood to be "a corporate body of Churches," united with the Pope of Rome, who serves as the guardian of unity (LG, no. 23). At present there are 22 Churches that comprise the Catholic Church. The new Code of Canon Law, promulgated by Pope John Paul II, uses the phrase "autonomous ritual Churches" to describe these various Churches (canon 112). Each Church has its own hierarchy, spirituality, and theological perspective. Because of the particularities of history, there is only one Western Catholic Church, while there are 21 Eastern Catholic Churches. The Western Church, known officially as the Latin Church, is the largest of the Catholic Churches. It is immediately subject to the Roman Pontiff as Patriarch of the West. The Eastern Catholic Churches are each led by a Patriarch, Major Archbishop, or Metropolitan, who governs their Church together with a synod of bishops. Through the Congregation for Oriental Churches, the Roman Pontiff works to assure the health and well-being of the Eastern Catholic Churches.

While this diversity within the one Catholic Church can appear confusing at first, it in no way compromises the Church's unity. In a certain sense, it is a reflection of the mystery of the Trinity. Just as God is three Persons, yet one God, so the Church is 22 Churches, yet one Church.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church summarizes this nicely:

"From the beginning, this one Church has been marked by a great diversity which comes from both the variety of God's gifts and the diversity of those who receive them... Holding a rightful place in the communion of the Church there are also particular Churches that retain their own traditions. The great richness of such diversity is not opposed to the Church's unity" (CCC no. 814).

Although there are 22 Churches, there are only eight "Rites" that are used among them. A Rite is a "liturgical, theological, spiritual and disciplinary patrimony," (Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, canon 28). "Rite" best refers to the liturgical and disciplinary traditions used in celebrating the sacraments. Many Eastern Catholic Churches use the same Rite, although they are distinct autonomous Churches. For example, the Ukrainian Catholic Church and the Melkite Catholic Church are distinct Churches with their own hierarchies. Yet they both use the Byzantine Rite.

To learn more about the "two lungs" of the Catholic Church, visit this link:

CATHOLIC RITES AND CHURCHES

The Vatican II Council declared that "all should realize it is of supreme importance to understand, venerate, preserve, and foster the exceedingly rich liturgical and spiritual heritage of the Eastern churches, in order faithfully to preserve the fullness of Christian tradition" (Unitatis Redintegrato, 15).

A Roman rite Catholic may attend any Eastern Catholic Liturgy and fulfill his or her obligations at any Eastern Catholic Parish. A Roman rite Catholic may join any Eastern Catholic Parish and receive any sacrament from an Eastern Catholic priest, since all belong to the Catholic Church as a whole. I am a Roman Catholic practicing my faith at a Maronite Catholic Church.

20 posted on 03/01/2014 7:22:42 AM PST by NYer ("You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears." James 4:14)
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To: markomalley; Gamecock; Campion
Married people are allowed to be clergy, but clergy must not be married after their ordination (that holds true for both Eastern Churches and Latin Churches, where married permanent deacons are allowed).

Although a married presbyteriate and diaconate are allowed in Eastern Churches, the episcopate must all be celibate. (The following is the part that I want to get verified by NYer) To my understanding, the reason for this is that taking monastic vows, including celibacy, is a requirement for being elected to the episcopate.

You are absolutely correct. It is also my understanding that married priests (in the Maronite Church), serve in an auxiliary capacity. Here in the US, the Maronite Church, like the Latin Church, suffers from a shortage of priests. To resolve this problem, the bishops have an agreement with a monastic community of missionaries in Lebanon whereby they solicit volunteers from their community to serve for a 10 year term in the US or other country. All of these priests are celibate.

The situation at St. Raymond’s Maronite Cathedral is also quite unique. The newly ordained priest is Lebanese (hence, he grew up in a culture where married priests serve), he previously (to his marriage) attended Holy Spirit University in Lebanon and Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Seminary in Washington DC. He and his wife have been married for 10 years and he has served at the Cathedral in the capacity of a deacon. This is a very large parish and probably places a great strain on one priest. Essentially, all of the elements normally applied in the Maronite tradition for a deacon to be ordained, were present in this particular situation. Perhaps that is why Pope Francis approved it, without lifting the rule for celibate priests.

Keep in mind that regardless of which Eastern Church, the sequence of vows is followed. Hence, a married man ordained a priest, must place his marriage vow first. For that reason, a celibate priest serves in the position of pastor. That is my understanding. Hope this clarifies the matter.

21 posted on 03/01/2014 7:41:34 AM PST by NYer ("You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears." James 4:14)
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To: fwdude

“Catholics are always hypocritically accusing non-Catholics of having a profusion of differing theologies and denominations, when the Catholic Church is no different.”

This isn’t about theology. Also, we have no denominations. We have Churches. There’s a difference.


22 posted on 03/01/2014 8:39:42 AM PST by vladimir998
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To: fwdude

all of the people of different “theologies and denominations” within the Catholic Church can pray together and take communion together and profess a common creed together. I don’t think all the Protestant denominations do that.


23 posted on 03/01/2014 9:19:55 AM PST by married21 ( As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.)
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To: Gamecock; Alex Murphy
Whatever happened to that tradition?

This?

http://history.hanover.edu/texts/trent/ct24.html

CANON X. -If any one saith, that the marriage state is to be placed above the state of virginity, or of celibacy, and that it is not better and more blessed to remain in virginity, or in celibacy, than to be united in matrimony; let him be anathema.

24 posted on 03/01/2014 9:32:48 AM PST by metmom (...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith....)
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To: married21
all of the people of different “theologies and denominations” within the Catholic Church can pray together and take communion together and profess a common creed together. I don’t think all the Protestant denominations do that.

I don't know of any Evangelical churches that restrict partaking of communion to members only.

25 posted on 03/01/2014 9:35:55 AM PST by metmom (...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith....)
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To: metmom

I don’t know of any Evangelical churches that restrict partaking of communion to members only.


Lutheran Church Missouri Synod endorses closed communion.


26 posted on 03/01/2014 9:43:38 AM PST by rwa265
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To: rwa265

Ok. And the rest of the “30,000”?

Is that Evangelical anyway?

Nevertheless, non-Catholics are free to celebrate communion in other churches.

The implication and contention that it is unique to Catholicism and an indicator of the superiority of the Catholic faith in its alleged unity, is disingenuous.


27 posted on 03/01/2014 9:46:42 AM PST by metmom (...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith....)
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To: metmom
This?

CANON X. -If any one saith, that the marriage state is to be placed above the state of virginity, or of celibacy, and that it is not better and more blessed to remain in virginity, or in celibacy, than to be united in matrimony; let him be anathema.

I don't understand what your point is.

Both Jesus and St. Paul commend celibacy, and would be in agreement with this canon, wouldn't they?

So... What are you trying to say about the topic of the thread?

Bishops have always been celibate, in all Catholic Rites, AFAIK. Both celibate men, and men married prior to ordination, have been admitted to the priesthood to varying degrees, in all Rites, since the earliest times.

There are even some married priests in the Latin ("Roman") Rite today. Most are Anglican priests who converted.

28 posted on 03/01/2014 9:49:41 AM PST by St_Thomas_Aquinas ( Isaiah 22:22, Matthew 16:19, Revelation 3:7)
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To: metmom

I was merely responding to your “I don’t know of any Evangelical churches that restrict partaking of communion to members only.” LCMS restricts partaking of communion. Whether other Evangelical churches restrict communion, I do not know.

I believe Lutheran Church Missouri Synod is evangelical.

I agree that shared communion is not unique to Catholicism. What is unique is the full union among the 22 Catholic Churches under the authority of the Pope. This is different from the independent authority that individual bodies within the Lutheran church, or the Methodist church, or other churches have.

I do not see this as any kind of superiority, however. It’s just the way that different churches have decided best works for them.


29 posted on 03/01/2014 12:06:28 PM PST by rwa265
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To: Gamecock

They’ve always been able to be married and become a Maronite priest. Nothing to see here, move along.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/getreligion/2014/02/wait-just-a-minute-first-ever-married-maronite-priest/


30 posted on 03/01/2014 4:46:28 PM PST by NKP_Vet ("I got a good Christin' raisin', an 8th grade education, ain't no need ya'll treatin' me this way")
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To: NKP_Vet

The novelty is that this gentleman was ordained and will serve in the United States, rather than in Lebanon.


31 posted on 03/01/2014 6:13:13 PM PST by Tax-chick (Lost to headquarters.)
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To: Tax-chick

But he’s no different than other married priest from another faith that becomes Catholic. Their wife comes with them.
It has always been that way. If she dies he can not get married again.


32 posted on 03/01/2014 7:53:38 PM PST by NKP_Vet ("I got a good Christin' raisin', an 8th grade education, ain't no need ya'll treatin' me this way")
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To: NKP_Vet

Correct.


33 posted on 03/02/2014 3:30:26 AM PST by Tax-chick (Lost to headquarters.)
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