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Mar. 27 2010 - 3:24 pm | 48,041 views | 27 recommendations | 267 comments

The Catholic Church is a Criminal Enterprise

The Holy See’s reaction to both stories has been swift. An unsigned editorial this week in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano attacked the New York Times by name, accusing the paper of willfully ignoring the “truth” of Ratzinger/Benedict’s record and of attempting “to instrumentalize, without any foundation in fact, horrible episodes and sorrowful events uncovered in some cases from decades ago.” The media, it continued, showed a “despicable intent of attacking, at whatever cost, Benedict XVI and his closest collaborators.”

Earlier in the week, New York’s archbishop, Timothy Dolan, used his blog to dismiss the New York Times reports and defend the pontiff’s record by arguing that authorities outside the church also are culpable. Stories about sexual abuse by priests were “fair” if “unending,” he wrote. But he condemned the media for portraying child sexual abuse “as a tragedy unique to the church alone. That, of course, is malarkey.”

via A pope with a problem – latimes.com.

Anyone who’s interested in losing his lunch should read the above-mentioned blog entry by New York archbishop Timothy Dolan in defense of Pope Benedict; the archbishop’s incredibly pompous and self-pitying rant is some of the most depraved horseshit I’ve ever seen on the internet, which is saying a lot.

One expects professional slimeballs like the public relations department of Goldman Sachs to pull out the “Well, we weren’t the only thieves!” argument when accused of financial malfeasance. But I almost couldn’t believe my eyes as I read through Dolan’s retort and it dawned on me that he was actually going to use the “We weren’t the only child molesters!” excuse. Dolan must have very roomy man-robes, because it seems to me you’d need a set of balls like two moons of Jupiter to say such a thing in public and expect it to fly. But this is exactly what Dolan does; he bases his entire defense of the Church on the idea that others are equally culpable. The relevant section of his piece:

What adds to our anger over the nauseating abuse and the awful misjudgment in reassigning such a dangerous man, though, is the glaring fact that we never see similar headlines that would actually be “news”:  How about these, for example?

–    “Doctor Asserts He Ignored Abuse Warnings,” since Dr. Huth admits in the article that he, in fact, told the archdiocese the abusing priest could be reassigned under certain restrictions, a prescription today recognized as terribly wrong;

–    “Doctor Asserts Public Schools Ignored Abuse Warnings,” since the data of Dr. Carol Shakeshaft concludes that the number of cases of abuse of minors by teachers, coaches, counsellors, and staff in government schools is much, much worse than by priests;

–    “Doctor Asserts Judges (or Police, Lawyers, District Attorneys, Therapists, Parole Officers) Ignored Abuse Warnings,” since we now know the sober fact that no one in the healing and law enforcement professions knew back then the depth of the scourge of abuse, or the now-taken-for-granted conclusion that abusers of young people can never safely work closely with them again.

The most revolting part of this response is the last bit about how “no one knew… back then” the depth of the scourge of abuse, or the fact that child molesters cannot be allowed near children ever again once caught. Dolan is trying to get us to focus on the 1962 case, but the truth is that as recently as this last decade, the Church’s doctrinal office elected to proceed with church trials for less than 10% of the 3000 cases of abuse reported to them between the years of 2000 and 2010.

And just a few days after this blog entry of Dolan’s, the Times would come out with another story indicating that the current Pope, then a Cardinal named Joseph Ratzinger, seems to have quashed an effort to bring a serial child abuser named Lawrence Murphy to a church trial. The inaction of Ratzinger’s office resulted in Murphy being allowed to die “in the dignity of the priesthood,” which was his wish as expressed in a letter to then-Cardinal Ratzinger in January 1998.

So while schools, parole officers, judges, lawyers and therapists may have been deficient in their understanding of child abuse back in 1962 (although I’m sorry — it could have been 1562, if someone molested my child and was allowed back in the priesthood, I’d be reaching for an axe), the Catholic church is alone among all of them in continuing to not get it since then. Despite massive public scandal over the course of what now is decades, they continue to deflect and shield child molesters as a matter of institutional routine. The ugliest part of the New York Times story wasn’t even the involvement of Ratzinger in this mess but the fact that three successive archbishops failed to do anything about Murphy, a man who apparently molested upwards of 200 children.

(And not only did he molest these children, but he clearly was not forthcoming about his crimes when examined by experts in sexual abuse . In the notes of one such expert there is a telling notation: “Denies sexual contact with anyone not named in outside complaints, i.e. admits to sexual contact only with those accused of!” The expert included that exclamation point, too.)

So this monster who was known to the highest authorities in the church to be a monster was allowed to die an active priest who was allowed to work with children for 24 years even after he was exposed, until the end of his life. For Dolan then to lay all this off on 1962 mores is disgusting all by itself and totally disingenuous.

But even worse — what does Dolan’s whiny deflecting and excuse-making say about the church as an arbiter of ethical values? These pompous assholes run around in their poofy robes and dresses shaking smoke-filled decanters with important expressions on their faces and pretending to great insight about grace and humility, but here we have the head of the largest Diocese in America teaching his entire congregation that when caught committing a terrible sin, the appropriate response is to blame the media and pull the “All the other kids were doing it, too!” stunt!

I was raised Catholic but stopped going to church at the age of 12. I was a complete idiot at that age with regard to almost every other area of human knowledge, but even I knew back then that the church was a scam. There are good and decent people working as individual priests, but the institution as a whole is a gang of cheap charlatans preying on peoples’ guilt feelings (which of course are cultivated intentionally by the church, which teaches children to be ashamed of their natural sexuality) in order to solicit a lifetime of contributions.

When I see a Catholic priest chanting his ridiculous incantations and waving his holy smoke over someone’s gravesite or at a wedding, the vibe I get is exactly the same as the one I get watching a plumber groan and moan and babble gibberish about all the different things wrong with your kitchen pipes, when in reality all he had to do was replace a washer. It’s the same as picking up your car after an oil change and listening to the mechanic rattle off a list of charges totaling thousands for the nineteen extra things he looked at under your hood, just out of concern for your safety… And when you protest, no, there was nothing wrong with my alternator, I’m not paying for that, he tries to bullshit you — oh, yes there was, trust me, if we hadn’ta fixed that, your car woulda died on the highway within a week.

That’s all the church is. They’re a giant for-profit company using predatory salesmanship to sell what they themselves know is a defective, outmoded, basically unnecessary product. They’ll use any means necessary to keep their market share and if they have to lie and cheat and deflect and point fingers to keep the racket going, they’ll do it, just like any other sleazeball company.

But I think it’s time we started considering that what the church is is even worse than that. It’s possible we should start wondering if the church is also a criminal organization that in this country, anyway, should be broken up using RICO statutes.

One of the few areas where I agreed with George Bush was in the notion that a country providing safe haven to terrorists should itself be treated as a terrorist organization. Morally this isn’t a difficult one to figure out; a country that keeps house for a bin Laden and doesn’t assist other countries in trying to catch him is a rogue state, one that should be booted out of the community of nations.

We don’t permit countries that harbor terrorists to participate in international society, but the Catholic Church — an organization that has been proven over and over again to systematically enable child molesters, right up now to the level of the Pope — is given a free pass. In fact the Church is not only not sanctioned in any serious way, it gets to retain its outrageous tax-exempt status, which makes its systematic child abuse, in this country at least, a government-subsidized activity.

Somewhere underneath all of this there is a root story that has to do with celibacy. The celibate status of its priests is basically the Catholic church’s last market advantage in the Christian religion racket, but human beings are not designed to be celibate and so problems naturally arise among the population of priests forced to live that terrible lifestyle. Just as it refuses to change its insane and criminal stance on birth control and condoms, the church refuses to change its horrifically cruel policy about priestly celibacy. That’s because it quite correctly perceives that should it begin to dispense with the irrational precepts of its belief system, it would lose its appeal as an ancient purveyor of magical-mystery bullshit and become just a bigger, better-financed, and infinitely more depressing version of a Tony Robbins self-help program.

Therefore it must cling to its miserable celibacy in order to keep its sordid business scheme going; and if clinging to its miserable celibacy means having to look the other way while children are serially molested by its sexually stunted and tortured employees, well, so be it.

If you look at it that way, the church’s institutional behavior is far worse than is commonly believed. It’s not just a matter of an intractable bureaucracy responding too slowly or too insensitively to some scattered accidents of fate. This is more like the situation of a car company that continues selling a cheap but faulty brake system because it has calculated that it stands to make more money selling the cars than it does to lose in lawsuits. The only difference is, a car company can fix the brakes if it wants to. What the Catholic church is selling is by definition faulty. It can’t change, or it will be out of business. So even if not changing means kids will be continue to be molested, it doesn’t change.

I think Chris Hitchens said this once, and I agree with him; if I were a person that made that kind of moral choice, I think I’d have to kill myself. But these guys not only don’t kill themselves, they go out in public ranting about how wronged they are and how they’ve been fucked over by the evil New York Times for airing out their dirty laundry. Again, I admire the balls, but seriously, they must know the game is almost up. Sooner or later people are going to catch on, the state is going to make a move, and there’s going to be a hell of a lot of church property going up for auction along with the seized Escalades of DEA-busted drug dealers. Or maybe not in this lifetime — but one can only hope.


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  1. collapse expand

    The centralized Roman Catholic Church is a target for indescretions and hypocrisy. Well deserved, I might add.

    The key to avoiding such damaging scrutiny and embarrassment is to decentralize: “Reform Jews” in the U.S. have no obligations to basic human morality. Their credibility and ethical stature is implied in their mere identity. They are morally obligated to nothing except their own personal desires. Their behavior is subject to what they are individually as humans, not by their religious affiliation. Tribal identity is all that matters. One can be a Jew in good standing while being a California pornographer, someone who rips off nursing homes, bulldozes Palestinian settlements, or, even worse, is Lloyd Blankfein. Same freedom from decency applies to most non-Catholic strains of Christianity.

    Every perverted or racist Christian pastor is blamed as an individual, not institutionally. No morals, no understanding of the Golden Rule: no problem! Off the hook.

    Immorality still trumps amorality in my view.

    You may hate this (I’m an athiest), but the Catholic Church is the last remaining vanguard of basic human morality, despite their monumental mistakes and sickening coverups. Taking down the Church entirely down would leave us with a moral vaccuum that could not be replaced.

    • collapse expand

      If you don’t mind my saying so, that is a shocking view coming from an atheist. I hope you will elaborate on why you believe “taking down the Church entirely would leave us with a moral vacuum that could not be replaced”. Personally, I believe we humans have made enormous progress towards moral behavior in spite of religions. A comment was made earlier by someone else that the Catholic church survived the Enlightenment. I happen to think that the Enlightenment survived the Church. It’s all about perspective, I suppose.

      Let me give you just one example of many experiences that burns in my heart when I think about it. My mother had many more children after I was born. We did not have much money even though my father worked as hard as he could. My mother cleaned houses while taking the preschool children with her. She confided in me at one point that she had asked the Monsignor if she could be allowed to use birth control. I will never forget the answer he gave her: “God wants you to have as many children as your body can bear.” A grown married mother asking an unmarried supposedly-celibate childless man if she can use birth control! Tell me that is not twisted. You call it the “last remaining vanguard of basic human morality”. I strongly disagree.

      Obviously, many men and women disobey the church and use birth control/sterilization anyway, but that is because people are moral enough to do the right thing for themselves and their families despite what the church says. Make of that what you will.

      Old joke to lighten the mood:

      What do you call people who use “natural family planning” for birth control? Parents.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  2. collapse expand

    “…he bases his entire defense of the Church on the idea that others are equally culpable.”

    Sounds like a member of the RNC trying to justify lesbian bondage field trips and treating liquor as office supplies. Everybody does it!

  3. collapse expand

    When I read this article, I was not surprised. I was born in Mexico and my parents were very catholic, so I went to a catholic school with nuns all my life. When I was 11 y/o a priest abused me and talked dirty to me. When I told my parents they did not believe me and scolded me for telling lies. I was feeling very lonely and unhappy and I had nobody to turn to.
    This priest (many of them, including the pope) must be punished for all the horrible crimes that they have committed for decades(probably centuries.)My parents thought the clergy were god-like and infallible. My parents made me go to confession with the priest that talked dirty to me every time and invited me to his office when nobody was around. I felt shame, confusion, and sadness.

  4. collapse expand

    Hi Matt,
    First, let me say I am a lesbian, and I have absolutely no problem with priests, nuns, or monks being gay, bi-sexual, or transsexual. And its fine with me if priests, nuns, monks or cardinals are in intimate, sexual relationship with other adults (or for that matter, paying to have sex with other consenting adults.).
    That said,
    I think the problem comes from the Catholic Churches “Donut Hole” Logic :
    A) The church defines Sex as “intercourse between a female and a male.”
    B) Since intercourse between 2 males or 2 females is defined as a “Homosexual act”, it does not fit the Churches definition of Sex.
    C)So, it’s fine with the church for priests to have sex with men or boys. They still technically maintain their Vow of Celibacy (since intercourse between 2 males is technically not sex).
    D)So- Why so many pedophiles in the priesthood? Probably some old sick belief that children will not talk, and if they do, who is going to believe a child’s word over a priests?

    Of course, this old world “logic” has now run head on with the age of instant Worldwide communication: social networking sites, Oprah & Dr. Drew, unlimited info sites and support forums on the web, social networking 24/7, ect.

    Matt, I think this has been going on, with the Pope and the Cardinals full awareness, since the time the church was founded : A true horror story that will hopefully bring some major changes to this institution.
    Allowing women to be priests and cardinals, allowing priests and nuns to have sexual relationships and to be in committed partnerships, and
    openly welcoming lesbians, gays, bi’s, transsexuals into the church would be a good first step. Along with recruiting new priests and nuns who will actually live the gospel of love, taking care of the poor and sick, preaching that the divine is always within all of us, as preached by Jesus the Christ. (and seriously, with the New testament being rewritten 100’s of time over the last 2.000 years, who knows what that dude from Galilee actually said!)
    Oh yeah, and get rid of that concept of hell, and stop using fear to control the people who still choose to include organized religion as a part of their lives.
    Peace out, Matt (always wanted to say that! Your 2 cool 4 school, Matt! keep up the good fight.)

    • collapse expand

      Last time I checked, the Church welcomed bis, gays and lesbians into the Church. You probably mean that the Church does not welcome into communion bis, gays and lesbians who are acting out or are in a sexually active monogamous relationship outside of marriage. This includes straight people too.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  5. collapse expand

    Matt, you are seriously a sick man, though I love to read your articles at night time for light reading. You can believe whatever you want about Catholicism, its faith life and its lack of necessity. But the inner cities would be much better with Catholic schools. Secondly, you might try to go after institutions and avoid the good guys. But, ultimately, silly goose, you can’t go after an institution and think you leave your friends unscathed. 24% of this country checks off the box “Catholic” when queried about faith and beliefs. So….who the hell are you calling a criminal? Me or all the other Catholics in this country? My police record is clean and I can attribute that clean record to my Catholic upbringing: my Catholic parents and my Catholic education. I received a safe, quality education, which surpasses anything that most Americans received in their so called schools. You warn that the Catholic Church will be auctioning off its property (I presume this is if the statute of limitations is lifted or eased in various states?) Then each state will file for bankruptcy, since the sexual abuse claims from those in public schools would tie up our tax dollars and court system. Has anyone asked those who were sexually abused in public schools to stand up? Don’t try that. You’ll piss off the NEA.

  6. collapse expand

    Well I think most everyone has missed Dolan’s point. The media is among the most guilty of missing it.

    Why no attention to the HUGE amount of clerical abuse in other mainstream and non mainstream churches. Only one reporter I have seen has had the balls to actually do investigative reporting on the sexual abuse in the Protestant denominations as well as the “cover ups” as well as MOVING clergy around to other churches so as to not remove them from that clergy.

    He did so by getting at the records of insurance companies that pay off claims of sexual abuse.

    An Anglican Minister in Britain also did an exhaustive study of sexual abuse in the clergy, found that the lowest rates occurred in the Catholic Church, the highest in another relatively large American denomination, with all of the other Protestant mainstream and non denominational churches falling somewhere in the middle.

    Worldwide, the scandals, coverups and moving of priests around that occurs in the Episcopalian churches is well known. Google on Sexual Abuse, Churches, and Australia, and you will come up with HUNDREDS of cases…almost all Anglican.

    These articles and studies barely got noticed, or if they did, they were ignored.

    Dolan makes a good point. Where is the media when it comes to pointing out these other abuses. Like the estimated 4.5 million kids between grades 8 – 11 who are abused by some trusted official in the public or private schools that happens each year in the U.S.

    Rage against Dolan all you like. But is that also a “coverup” of the media placing so much focus on the Catholic Church which is the ONLY church which has taken the sexual abuse charges seriously and the only church that is taking steps to do attempt to do something, while even this year, sexual abuses are going on in larger numbers in other denominations, they are being covered up, abusive ministers are being moved from one church to another, and it is going completely unnoticed, unrecognized, unadmitted, uninvestigated by the media.

    If you were actually intent on doing something about the abuse, rather than singling out a church, you would at least pay attention to that one point that Dolan is making.

    The media appears, to me, to be on a witch hunt, rather than a hunt for truth. I think you do not like the fact that Dolan is pointing that out, and are attempting to distract from this fact.

  7. collapse expand

    First off I cant stand the Catholic Church however Matt, unlike someone like Sinéad O’Connor how has the right to condemn the church as she is Catholic, who are you air you’re views when things closer to you’re home are the foulest most despicable.

    Having read the Talmud on which all Jewish culture is based, with it’s absolute hatred for all Gentiles and particularly Christians, why don’t you address these issues before you think you have the right to interfere and manipulate Gentile issues. Issues such as the sanctioning of exploiting the ‘goy’. From the privately owned Jewish Federal Reserve, rabbi’s involved in human trafficking for prostitution, human organs, drug smuggling, war, usury etc etc etc.

    Try reading The Plot Against the Church by Maurice Pinay.

    “A nation/corporation/organisation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear. The traitor is the plague.”

  8. collapse expand

    Mr. Taibbi,

    Regarding you blog – The Catholic Church is a Criminal Enterprise:

    Your interpretation the Archbishop’s blog is really skewed! Your rational thought is apparently so clouded by your blind hatred for the Catholic Church that you are willing throw any journalistic honesty and integrity that you may have completely to the wind.

    Archbishop Dolan does not “defend” Pope Benedict or the Catholic Church. On the contrary, he makes it clear that the vast majority of the clergy and layity are sickened by any incidents of child molestation, particularly when initiated by a trusted figure of authority within the church. And the Archbishop does not sound to me like he is in any way trying to dismiss, distort or minimize the problem. And he clearly isn’t doing so by saying “well they do it too!” He’s pointing out the fact that statistically incidents of pedophilia within the Catholic clergy are no higher than in the clergy in any other religious denomination or in the general population as a whole. But the news media (totally unbiased journalists such as you – sarcasm) rarely cover the hundreds of cases of pedophiles outed every day, but focus all forces of the international media on cases of pedophilia identified in the Catholic Church. And as he states: “As Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and now as Pope, he [Pope Benedict] is seen as one “who gets it” when it comes to the horror of clergy sexual abuse, and who has placed the full force of the Apostolic See, the Vatican, behind efforts to reform.” I have personally seen the significant policy reforms implement within my diocese and how that has been put into practice in the processes and procedures of the churches in my diocese.

    As far as the Church’s institution of celibacy within the priesthood, there is zero evidence to support your assertion that it leads to sexual perversion, or that only sexual deviates and child predators enter the priesthood. I’ve known a lot of very good priests, and they enter the holy orders from very common and diverse backgrounds; policemen, engineers, military, doctors, scientists, etc. Many go most of their lives in their chosen career field before receiving their calling. But my guess would be that you are probably not seeing a pervert in everyone applying for a teaching position, but look at the number of cases of “alleged inappropriate behavior with a minor” (the nice way the media has of referring to “child sexual molestation” if it had been a priest) which are routinely uncovered in that profession.

    You are indicative of why nobody trusts anything put out by the media any more (as well as blogs like yours). Fact-based journalism no longer exists. Just this kind of opinionated trash from brainwashed, “useful idiots” who are pushing an agenda. The description of this site says “True/Slant is a news network built by credible and knowledgeable contributors. Please join our network and help shape your news.” And you are certainly doing your part to “shape the news!”

  9. collapse expand

    What I don’t understand is why the former Cardinal Law, and the present Bishop John McCormack aren’t in prison. To make McCormack a bishop is beyond reprehensible. Of course they slid Law out of the country before the real law slammed him in prison for life. Any principal, superintendent, teacher, counselor police officer, minister in another church who pulled what they did would never see the light of day.

  10. collapse expand

    I efficiently defined the hustle of the RCC many years ago.
    “First, you give them guild; then you sell them forgiveness.”

    It’s a simple model… like heroin: “The first one’s free.” Once the mooch is hooked, the Church’s game is on: Tithe your 10%; we need “Christian Soldiers” for the next vicious crusade; You know who your enemies are. “Kill the heretics!”; Science is the enemy of “TRUTH.” (because we brook no competition this is a all-or-nothing hustle); “If you are a good Catholic, you will vote for… or vote against…”, etc ad nauseam.

    2000 years of selling real estate in a non-existant heaven, using fear of a non-existent hell. These child rapes, as horrible as they are, are minor crimes in the history of the Roman Catholic Church. For one major example: the bishops who ran the Rat-line out of the Vatican and gave passports and cash to escaping Nazi mass-murderers should have been executed.

    Matt: Your article barely scratched the surface of cynicism that is cloaked by the purple robes of these perennial predators.

    PS. The other part of this is the Church’s attempt to geographically isolate the crime of child rape. Apart from the places already in the US and European press, I have witnessed this crime throughout Latin America and in Africa. This is a global pattern not an regional one. I also believe that the time frame is much too constricted, It was certainly the norm in the 1950s and early 60s when I went to Catholic schools. There was a priest, a Latin teacher in my high-school (1958-1962), who could not keep his hands off of boys IN CLASS, while he was regularly asking boys to go on “swimming dates” over the weekend. and EVERYBODY knew it. The recent excuse about the young priests getting caught up in our 60s sexual revolution is just another convient bit of horse-shit, from a corrupt church that will say anything they can get away with and because they have legions of trained fools the paramaters of their duplicity are extraordinarily wide.

    The only hope, to break this unholy hold over the minds of so many, is that this time the exposed corruption of the Church has pissed off the “faithful” to the point where enough of them can see the facts that they have had their faces rubbed in… but don’t count on it. As a very wise man, Eric Hoffer, wrote: “Propaganda does not deceive people, it merely helps them deceive themselves.”

  11. collapse expand

    THAT IS:

    “First, you give them GUILT; then you sell them FORGIVENESS.”

    Does anybody know a good copy editor… I could use one…jt

  12. collapse expand

    Its been a criminal enterprise from the beginning.

    It was the “catholic Crusades” against the muslim people that are best described as their holocaust Over 900 years and 13-14 ward, tens of millions were murdered.

    Societies have long memories. The church, which claims infallibility -its crimes are not forgotten by the victims. Societies have long memories.

    thats part of how the Muslims created their own crazies. the cause if forgotten but the hate is passed on father to son at the dinner table.Witness 9=11/

    then of course the holy Inquisition and the associated burnings of women as witches to perpetuate male power.

    the church built the claims of Deicide and the blood libel BS. Creating the antisemitism that engulfed Europe . And laying the groundworkd for both hitler’s election and 55 million deaths. INcluding Jews, gays, soviet prisoners, Croats and others

    Vatican II was a weak attempt to reform the church. Which the German Pope is trying to undo. He wants to go back to the old Good Friday Litergy -

    which calls for the conversion of Jews.

    Which in the middle ages came with the threat of death.

    HIs name should have been seen as God’s warning to the Cardinals, but they avoided it, due to church politics

    RATZInger. Born in 1928 in Germany. the lessons of ones early life hold the greatest sway over our personality. Good or Evil.

  13. collapse expand

    An international conspiracy to obstruct justice.

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