Saturday, 18 September 2010

Help stop UN attack on conscientious objection to abortion

At the Human Rights Council in Geneva, top United Nations officials have called for the policing of nations worldwide to “address the refusal of physicians to perform legal abortions”.

Ban Ki Moon (pictured), the UN Secretary General, and Navanethem Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, have launched a report “on discrimination against women, in law and practice, and how the issue is addressed throughout the United Nations human rights system”.

The report recommends the creation of a new office to focus on laws and practices that discriminate against women. This means the appointment of a special rapporteur who, in addition to following up on genuine rights, would also follow up on recommendations such as attacking doctors’ conscientious objection to abortion.

Pope Benedict got to the heart of the matter in Westminster Hall yesterday when he highlighted the worldwide attack by governments on conscientious objection. Ban Ki Moon and Navanethem Pillay are exploiting their UN roles to step up this attack and to push for a global right to abortion.

Last June the same pair of UN officials pushed through the Human Rights Council an ideologically-driven pro-abortion report with the aim of attaching legalized abortion to the Millenium Development Goals. Governments and concerned citizens worldwide must heed Pope Benedict’s timely warning and stop this latest report in its tracks.

Please contact the foreign ministry in your country, urging your government to reject the Ban Ki Moon/Navanethem Pillay report, because abortion is not a human right, but conscientious objection is.
Supporters in the UK should contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)

Please copy any replies you receive to political@spuc.org.uk


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Friday, 17 September 2010

Pope warns governments are threatening conscientious objection

This evening at the British parliament Pope Benedict warned that governments are threatening conscientious objection:
"What are the requirements that governments may reasonably impose upon citizens, and how far do they extend? ... [T]here are those who argue – paradoxically with the intention of eliminating discrimination – that Christians in public roles should be required at times to act against their conscience. These are worrying signs of a failure to appreciate...the rights of believers to freedom of conscience ... [R]eligious bodies – including institutions linked to the Catholic Church – need to be free to act in accordance with their own principles and specific convictions based upon the faith and the official teaching of the Church."
As I said to the media earlier this evening, legislatures in Britain and Europe recently have threatened the right not to be complict in abortion and euthanasia. For example, Ed Balls, the previous education secretary, earlier this year threatened to force both Catholic and non-Catholic schools to promote abortion. Tony Blair's government passed the Mental Capacity Act, which in certain circumstances forces doctors to deny life-preserving treatment and care to incapacitated patients. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is due to debate a report which, if implemented, would undermine massively conscientious objection to abortion across Europe.

I call upon all Catholics, other Christians and all those who value human dignity to heed Pope Benedict's words and join the pro-life movement in upholding the right to life via conscientious objection.

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Catholic bishops must obey Pope’s words that school teaching must be pro-life

The Catholic bishops of England and Wales must obey Pope Benedict’s words this morning that teaching in Catholic schools “must always be in conformity with Church doctrine”.

Pope Benedict made his statement this morning at St Mary’s University College, Twickenham, London, referring to:
"the much-discussed Catholic ethos that needs to inform every aspect of school life"
including
"the self-evident requirement that the content of the teaching should always be in conformity with Church doctrine."
As I told the media earlier today, the Catholic bishops’ conference of England and Wales has signally failed to ensure that teaching in Catholic schools is in conformity with Catholic Church doctrine, including on the sanctity of human life. The Catholic Education Service (CES) of England and Wales welcomed and helped write government draft guidance on sex education under the previous government, draft guidance which was diametrically opposed to Catholic doctrine on abortion and sexual ethics. Indeed, Bishop Malcolm McMahon, the current CES chairman, told Pope Benedict today at Twickenham that the Catholic Church in England and Wales “value[s] very much” its “unique relationship with our government”.

The CES recently appointed Greg Pope as its deputy director, a former Labour MP with a lengthy anti-life/anti-family record. It also seems that Vincent Nichols, archbishop of Westminster and former CES chairman, goes along with prevailing unCatholic ideas on sex and relationships education.

The papal visit should be the occasion when the bishops start obeying Pope Benedict’s teaching through a root-and-branch reform of the CES. The bishops must also conduct a thorough review of the content of teaching in all the Catholic schools in their dioceses, ensuring that such teaching is in perfect conformity with Vatican documents on sex education.

I totally endorse comments made this morning on Sky TV by Fr Thomas Williams, professor of theology and ethics in Rome, who said:
“It’s not for 50 protestors to tell parents how to educate their children. Parents are the primary educators of their children, and have a right to educate their children according to their values and to ensure that external education corresponds with that upbringing. It’s not for others [than parents] to indoctrinate children with [different] values.”
I also totally endorse Pope Benedict's call, made at an inter-faith meeting later in the morning at Twickenham, for all faiths to unite to "defend human life at every stage".

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Thursday, 16 September 2010

Pope's warning of "dictatorship of relativism" includes abortion

The Pope, in his homily at Bellahouston Park, Glasgow this evening referred to:
"our times, when a 'dictatorship of relativism' threatens to obscure the unchanging truth about man’s nature".
Last year Pope Benedict explicitly linked abortion, euthanasia and embryo destruction with this "dictatorship of relativism”. In an address on 16 December last year on the thought of the English medieval thinker John of Salisbury, the Pope said:
“[O]nly those laws are equitable that protect the sanctity of human life and reject the legalization of abortion, euthanasia and limitless genetic experimentation ... If not, what John of Salisbury calls the 'tyranny of the sovereign' or, what we would call 'the dictatorship of relativism', ends up taking over...”
The truth about man's nature is that human life begins at conception, and has an equal right to life with all other members of the human family. Britain, as the geopolitical epicentre of the culture of death, has often been the first country to obscure that unchanging truth and pass laws allowing abortion, euthanasia and embryo destruction. I earnestly hope and pray that all Catholics, other Christians and those concerned for our common humanity to join the pro-life movement in resisting the 'dictatorship of relativism'.

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Pope’s message on resistance to tyranny is timely

Pope Benedict’s first address on British soil this morning contained a timely warning about anti-life laws and governments. Addressing Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, he said:
“Your forefathers’ respect for truth and justice, for mercy and charity come to you from a faith that remains a mighty force for good in your kingdom, to the great benefit of Christians and non-Christians alike. We find many examples of this force for good throughout Britain’s long history. Even in comparatively recent times, due to figures like William Wilberforce and David Livingstone, Britain intervened directly to stop the international slave trade ... Even in our own lifetime, we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live.”
As I told the media earlier today, abortion, destructive embryo research and euthanasia are types of slavery and tyranny in our own age. Britain has rightly been described as the geopolitical epicentre of the culture of death. Catholics, other Christians and all those concerned for our common humanity must join Pope Benedict in resisting threats to the lives of the unborn, the sick, the disabled and the vulnerable.

Pope Benedict marked the 60th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights by saying that Catholic:
"principles, faithfully maintained, above all when dealing with human life, from conception to natural death ... are necessary conditions if we are to respond adequately to the decisive and urgent challenges that history presents."
British Church leaders must not undermine Pope Benedict’s message by seeking an easy accommodation with the British government. The new coalition government has already declared the promotion of abortion internationally as one of its priorities. The Catholic Church, in particular in Britain, must not seek an illusory balance between the truth and a nebulous religious freedom, in which the Church avoids resistance to anti-life/anti-family policies in exchange for toleration by a secularist state.

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Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Vatican newspaper helps Tony Blair steal Newman's legacy

L'Osservatore Romano, the semi-official Vatican newspaper, has today published an article by Tony Blair entitled "The Pope and Newman". Here is the key content from the article:
  • "For the life of the Church today, Newman’s reflections on the development of ideas evidently have...profound implications."
  • " ... Newman also described the consensus of the whole “body of the faithful” on matters of doctrine as the “voice of the Infallible Church”. I doubt if this voice is yet taken seriously enough on moral questions, or if we have yet fully digested the implications of these ideas. The tendency of some religious leaders to bundle a large number of different ideas into a bag marked “secularism”, then treat it as a sinister package, is divisive in pluralist societies. It cuts the Church off from possibilities of new developments in thinking."
  • "Newman, like Pope Benedict, was fiercely opposed to relativism. But the interfaith work that my Faith Foundation undertakes rests on, and generates, the opposite of relativism. I have found that it affirms people in their different faiths, while building respect and understanding for the faith of others." [my emphases]
Elsewhere in the article Mr Blair pays lip-service to the role of the Church's Magisterium (teaching authority). In this Mr Blair is clearly attempting to fool Catholics into viewing him as a moderate conservative, one who acknowledges the Church's teaching authority whilst being open to modern developments. Anyone inclined to believe Mr Blair can simply read his newly-published memoirs, in which he says:
"Politicians are obliged from time to time to conceal the full truth, to bend it and even distort it".
The truth is that Mr Blair is cleverly abusing the nuances of Newman's opinions on the primacy of conscience and on the development of doctrine. Mr Blair is trying to steal Newman's clothing in order to leverage a change to Catholic teaching on homosexuality (and no doubt on other pro-life/pro-family issues). In April last year Mr Blair told the gay magazine Attitude that the Catholic Church must change its "entrenched attitudes to homosexuality".

As Monsignor Michel Schooyans, one of the Vatican's leading scholars, has pointed out in a masterly analysis, Mr Blair, with an anti-life, anti-family agenda, is in fact seeking to undermine the Catholic faith and religion generally:
"The fresh 'convert' [Blair] does not hesitate to explain to the pope not only what he must do, but also what he must believe! ... So now we are back in the time of Hobbes, if not of Cromwell: it is civil power that defines what one must believe ... [T]he nanny state [which] has multiplied subjective 'rights' of attribution, for example in the areas of divorce, sexuality, the family, population, etc. ... Religious institutions must also be reformed to adapt them to the changes. Some religious figures must be taken hostage and made to approve the new secularized 'faith', that of the 'civil partnership' ... In the case of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation [JS: see my blog about it], this is also a matter of promoting one and only one religious confession, which a universal, global political power would impose on the entire world".
Cherie with a condom
Mr Blair has been ably assisted in his assault upon Catholic teaching by his wife Cherie (pictured) and her vocal campaigns in favour of contraception and leading pro-abortion organisations.

I am disgusted by L'Osservatore Romano's decision to give such prominence to Mr Blair and his manipulative agenda.This is not the first time that the newspaper L'Osservatore Romano has betrayed the pro-life movement. In September last year it published an effusive double-page spread interview with Mr Blair; and earlier in 2009 it published articles favourable to Barack Obama, with the editor even declaring that "Obama is not a pro-abortion president".

To my mind it is no coincidence that Tony Blair's shameful attempted theft of Newman's legacy follows so soon after Fr Dermot Fenlon, one of the world's leading expert defenders of Newman's authentic legacy, has been sentenced to five years' exile from his home, Newman's Birmingham Oratory. Fr Fenlon, along with the other Birmingham Oratorians, were at the forefront of warning Catholics about the Blairs' agenda. As the Newman Cause blog said in November:
"Newman is indeed the great teacher of the rights and duties of conscience. It is of the greatest importance that his teaching is not used to make him the patron of Catholics, like Cherie Blair and others, who in the name of conscience practice dissent from the Church’s teaching ..."
And as the Newman cause blog said in October:
"Since becoming a Catholic, Mr Blair has refused every invitation [JS: see my blog about this] to disown and repent of [his anti-life/anti-family political record] ... [S]ome commentators, including Catholics, have sought to justify it by saying that Mr Blair’s silence is because his support for abortion, embryo experimentation, civil partnerships and gay adoption has always been for him, and remains now, a matter of conscience. Now this is the danger in The Tablet’s association of Newman and conscience with the case of Tony Blair. If as a Catholic Mr Blair thinks that his conscience directs him to support such positions, to invoke Newman in defence of his stance would be a travesty. For Newman, no Catholic can be in good conscience in supporting the positions Mr Blair espoused. The impossibility of conscience, enlightened by Faith, justifying adherence to evil is one of the most important of Newman’s lessons for our times."
Since the removal of Fr Fenlon and the Birmingham Three from the Oratory, the Newman Cause blog has had no substantial articles (in fact, the blog stopped altogether in July); and the posts on the Oratory website (12 March, 20 March) which so powerfully challenged episcopal policies on abortion and sex education have also stopped. The ending of these articles coincided with the parachuting in of Jack Valero by the Catholic bishops' conference of England and Wales to be press officer for the Newman Cause and who reports to Archbishop Nichols's press secretary.

Yesterday's edition of Zenit contains an extraordinary interview with Andrea Tornielli, a noted Vatican watcher. Here is a key extract:
Zenit: According to the Archbishop Giampaolo Crepaldi of Trieste, there exists a parallel magisterium among ecclesiastics, professors of theology in the seminaries, priests and laypeople who "muffle Benedict XVI's teachings, do not read the documents of his magisterium, write and speak arguing exactly the opposite of what he says, launch pastoral and cultural initiatives, on the terrain of bioethics or in ecumenical dialogue, for example, in open divergence with what he teaches." Is this true or is Archbishop Crepaldi mistaken?

Tornielli: I believe that Archbishop Crepaldi is right. It is obvious -- just take a look at many parishes, participate at conferences, cultural gatherings, etc., and you will see how Benedict XVI's magisterium (but this happened before too, with other Popes) is not transmitted to the faithful, but is instead sometimes openly contradicted.
I wrote in June:
"Could it be that external  forces [JS: outside the Birmingham Oratory but inside the Church] who want a Catholic Church which is inclusive of the Blairs' anti-life, anti-family positions are bringing pressures to bear in [the Birmingham Three] situation? How very convenient it would be, especially in the run-up to Pope Benedict's visit, if uncomfortable issues such as the teaching of the Church on contraception, abortion and on homosexuality were also safely hidden away?"
It seems to me that the Blairs, Archbishop Nichols and the Catholic bishops' conference of which he is president are key players in this "parallel magisterium". (Jack Valero, in his bishops' conference role, has even denied the very existence of such a "parallel magisterium"). Ownership of the interpretation of Newman is one of the "parallel magisterium's" key goals. It would suit the purposes of the "parallel magisterium" to move to divide and conquer at the Birmingham Oratory, especially targeting Fr Dermot Fenlon, the champion of the true Magisterium's authentic interpretation of Newman's legacy.

Concerned readers of this blog are therefore heartily urged to join the faithful Newman experts who are standing up for Fr Fenlon: Dr Roman Siebenrock of the German International Newman Society, and Jacob and Stephanie Maria Knab.

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Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Scottish bishop challenges hypocrisy of Pope Benedict's detractors

Philip Tartaglia (pictured), Catholic bishop of Paisley and president of the Scottish Catholic Church's National Communications Commission, has challenged the hypocrisy of Peter Tatchell, the homosexual lobbyist who's trying to destroy Pope Benedict's reputation because of his defence of the sanctity of human life and the dignity of the family.

In a press release, Bishop Tartaglia said that Mr Tatchell’s past statements, that "not all sex involving children is unwanted, abusive and harmful" cast “huge doubt on [Mr Tatchell's] claim to be an expert on human sexuality or a credible critic of the Pope or of the Catholic Church”.

The bishop added that:
"[Mr Tatchell's Channel Four] programme shows conclusively that Mr Tatchell knows next to nothing about the real nature and mission of the Catholic Church."
Apart from expressing appreciation for the bishop's courageous intervention, I can only reiterate my exasperation that Vincent Nichols, Catholic archbishop of Westminster, is appeasing the homosexual lobby represented by Mr Tatchell.

Archbishop Nichols should listen more closely, not only to the recent statements by Pope Benedict and Bishop Tartaglia, but also to Peter Hitchens, the Anglican writer, who wrote in last weekend's Mail on Sunday:
"I’m rather grateful that Mr Tatchell, unlike most of his allies, is honest enough to discuss openly where the sexual revolution may really be headed.

"As the condom-wavers and value-free sex-educators advance into our primary schools it seems clear to me that shock, by itself, is no defence against this endless, sordid dismantling of moral barriers till there is nothing left at all. Yet when [ Pope Benedict, ] one of the few men on the planet who argues, with force, consistency and reason, for an absolute standard of goodness comes to this country, he is reviled by fashionable opinion."
Archbishop Nichols, through his own statements and his defence of the Catholic Education Service (CES), is playing a key role in assisting the "condom wavers and value-free sex-educators' advance into our primary schools".

* The late Pope John Paul II, the great pro-life champion, taught in paragraph 97 of his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae that it is an illusion to think that we can build a true culture of human life if we do not offer adolescents and young adults an authentic education in sexuality, and in love, and the whole of life according to their true meaning and in their close interconnection.

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Monday, 13 September 2010

We need authentic Catholic voices on life and family, not dissenting spin doctors

St Peter preaches at Pentecost
Jack Valero of Catholic Voices told BBC1's Sunday Morning Live programme that:
"the Church is not against condoms".
James Preece of Catholic and Loving It! has kindly provided the full transcript of the segment:
Jack Valero: The Church is not against condoms the Church is against promiscuity

Julie Bindel: The Church is against condoms!

Jack Valero: The Church is against promiscuity and sex outside of marriage

Colm O'Gorman: Is the Church now supporting the use of condoms?

Jack Valero: No, the Church is against... er... promiscuity

Colm O'Gorman: In marriage? Does the Church oppose the use of condoms in marriage?

Jack Valero: Well, no, the Church is against contraception of course.

Colm O'Gorman: So it's against condoms?

Jack Valero: But, but, we're talking here about HIV, no the Church is against contraception.
And as James correctly points out, Dr Austen Ivereigh, Mr Valero's co-director of Catholic Voices, is also open about his dissenting interpretation of the Catholic Church's teaching on condoms. Dr Ivereigh has even said that:
"it is right for schools to teach how condoms help to reduce transmission of STDs."
This is the same Dr Ivereigh who in 2005 wrote to The Catholic Herald making the absurd claim that:
"[T]here is no Catholic school in Britain, joint or otherwise, in which Catholic children are being taught less than the Catholic faith in its integrity."
Yet Humanae Vitae is crystal-clear in its prohibition of any action by a couple to close the marital act to the transmission of life:
“[E]ach and every marital act must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life." (Humanae Vitae, 11)
Mr Valero and Dr Ivereigh, wittingly or unwittingly, are providing a bridgehead for other Catholics in representative positions to adopt their own dissenting interpretations, not just of Catholic teaching on the use of condoms, but on other areas of Catholic teaching on life and family. Readers should not forget that Dr Ivereigh was the deputy editor of The Tablet, which is internationally renowned for its dissent from Catholic teaching, especially on sexual ethics. Here are some other worrying recent content from Catholic Voices and/or from Mr Valero and Dr Ivereigh:
  • "[Mark] Dowd is a superb producer and close to Catholics [CV blog, 5 September]  ... Dowd concludes the Church is more 'polarised' now between 'traditionalists' and 'progressives' but at the same time 'more Catholic' -- in the sense of 'universal' -- than 28 years ago. Superb." [CV blog, 9 September] Yet Mr Dowd is a homosexual opponent of Catholic teaching on homosexuality. The latter comment by the CV blog-author implies that Catholic Voices supports Mr Dowd's vision of a Catholic Church in which dissent is warmly accommodated.
  • The Guardian ... a paper many Catholics wrongly think is unsympathetic to the Church.” [CV blog, 6 September] Yet The Guardian is in effect the house journal of the British anti-life/anti-family movement and regularly publishes attacks on the Catholic Church for its pro-life/pro-family teachings, such as:
“[T]he [Catholic C]hurch directly aggravates the plight of vulnerable people. It rails against IVF giving children to the childless, against stem-cell research giving hope to the sick, and against the use of condoms – even as a means of preventing the spread of HIV. Its rigid views on homosexuality and the role of women ... [T]he extent of child abuse for which its priests have been responsible has been shocking, as has its tendency to close ranks in response to the scandal. Benedict himself, an arch-conservative, has in the past manoeuvred to preserve the autonomy of the church in such matters, as opposed to having them immediately handed on to the police. He has also indulged the standing of Catholic figures who have turned a blind eye to Nazi atrocities.”
  • I noted recently Dr Ivereigh's stated desire to "find the balance" between gay people's right in law to adopt children and "freedom of religion". Yet no such "balance" is ethically acceptable. This very day
    Pope Benedict has said:
    "[T]he Church cannot approve legislative initiatives that involve a re-evaluation of alternative models of marriage and family life. They contribute to a weakening of the principles of natural law, and thus to the relativisation of all legislation and confusion about values in society."
    In other words, Catholics must not tolerate a right in law for gay people to adopt children in return for concessions towards freedom of religion, such as letting Catholic adoption agencies place children only with heterosexuals. When the state passes laws contrary to the natural moral law, especially when they threaten children (born or unborn), we must be fearlessly uncompromising, like St John of Nicomedia, one of the Roman martyrs, whose feast-day was last Tuesday. He
    "seeing the cruel edicts against Christians posted up in the public square, and being inflamed with an ardent faith, stretched forth his hand, took them away and tore them up." [Roman Martyrology]
    Pope Benedict told the English and Welsh bishops, on their most recent ad limina visit, that Catholics must:
    "recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate".
    Mr Valero and Dr Ivereigh need to retract some of their public statements, lest the Catholic Voices project becomes a vehicle for "dissent [under the guise of] a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate".

    * The late Pope John Paul II, the great pro-life champion, taught in paragraph 97 of his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae that it is an illusion to think that we can build a true culture of human life if we do not offer adolescents and young adults an authentic education in sexuality, and in love, and the whole of life according to their true meaning and in their close interconnection.

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Pope Benedict contradicts Archbishop Nichols on "gay unions"

Just two days after Archbishop Vincent Nichols said, for the second time in recent weeks, that he did not know if the Catholic Church would "accept the reality of gay partnerships" (11th September) or "sanction gay unions" (2nd July), Pope Benedict has made a statement which, effectively, puts Archbishop Nichols firmly in his place.

Pope Benedict was formally receiving the letters of credence of Germany's new ambassador to the Holy See. According to the Vatican Information Service, His Holiness began by speaking about Fr. Gerhard Hirschfelder, "a martyr priest who died under the Nazi regime and who is due to be beatified in Munster on 19 September. He also referred to the beatifications of four other priests and the commemoration of an Evangelical pastor, scheduled for 2011."

Pope Benedict continued:
"Contemplating these martyrs, it emerges ever more clearly how certain men, on the basis of their Christian convictions, are ready to give their lives for the faith, for the right to exercise their beliefs freely and for freedom of speech, for peace and human dignity.

"[However] many men tend to show an overriding inclination towards more permissive religious convictions. The personal God of Christianity, Who reveals Himself in the Bible, is replaced by a supreme being, mysterious and undefined, who has only a vague relation with the personal life of human beings.

"These ideas are increasingly animating discussion within society, especially as regards the areas of justice and lawmaking ...

"The Church looks with concern at the growing attempts to eliminate the Christian concept of marriage and the family from the conscience of society. Marriage is the lasting union of love between a man and a woman, which is always open to the transmission of human life ... the success of marriages depends upon us all and on the personal culture of each individual citizen. In this sense, the Church cannot approve legislative initiatives that involve a re-evaluation of alternative models of marriage and family life. They contribute to a weakening of the principles of natural law, and thus to the relativisation of all legislation and confusion about values in society".
I said on Saturday that "Archbishop Nichols's, my archbishop's, comments are dangerous to the souls of my children". I thank God that Pope Benedict has spoken out today re-iterating the Catholic Church's unchanging teaching on this matter. The ball is now in Archbishop Nichols's court to make it clear, unequivocally, that he withdraws his comments on gay unions and that he supports papal teaching on this matter.


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