November 1, 2014

Unravelling the Episcopal Assembly: Interview with Fr. Mark Arey

ancient-faith-presentsIn our continuing effort to keep you informed about the recent and on going work of our Hierarchs to bring about administrative unity, we present an extensive interview with Fr. Mark Arey. The discussion centers on the first Episcopal Assembly meeting in New York on May 26-28, 2010. You will hear first hand what took place behind the closed doors of the Assembly and how it impacts all of us for the future. Fr. Mark is the current General Secretary of SCOBA (the Standing Conference of Orthodox Bishops in America) and was the initial Secretary of the Assembly in New York. He was one of very few non-Bishops in the meetings.

Listen here:

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Comments

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    Fr. Peter says:

    I listened to this today and found it very informative. Much of the time was spent discussing the situation with the OCA and I did not realize that the OCA is not the only jurisdiction that is not included on the Executive Committee.

    The interesting this was that Fr. Mark (who I find very arrogrant) kept making reference to THE Archbishop. I know he was making reference to Archbishop Dimitrios but by his saying THE makes me think something is up. He also mentions that the thought of an Autocepheolous American Church is not going to happen. Another interesting comment.

    What do others think?

    Special thanks to Ancient Faith Radio for producing such a podcast.

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      Isa Almisry says:

      It is VAST improvement over his usual style. Not a single “so-called” before OCA. Interesting how they are finessing around Met. Jonah’s absence on the executive committee because “he doesn’t represent a Mother Church, he is a Mother Church in his self understanding.” Interesting that ALL the bishops were invited just as bishops, not just Met. Jonah. And not by jurisdiction: isn’t a gathering of bishops in a land usually called a Synod? Couple of things he got wrong, I just mention here that I have been informed that Met. Jonah was commemorated in the diptychs in Moscow in the EP’s presence.

      If Archb. Demetrios became THE Archbishop of the Autocephalos Church, that would be fine, as I see Met. Jonah going along with it.

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        George Michalopulos says:

        +Demetrius would be a worthy Metropolitan of All-America and Canada. Which is one of the reasons why the Phanar has been working tirelessly to get rid of him.

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      George Michalopulos says:

      Fr Peter, as talented and charismatic a man as Fr Mark is, isn’t the question about autocephaly for a larger, more united, American Church to be decided by the bishops? Does he have some special insights that these men don’t? Or is the EA just what we always feared, a super-sized SCOBA convened for the purpose of frustrating true unity?

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        Fr. Peter says:

        George,

        Listen to the podcast and see what you think. He was pretty clear from what I heard.

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          George Michalopulos says:

          Fr I did. John Maddex is to be commended for not doing the usual puff piece like was done last year on OCN. What an embarrassment. He didn’t give an inch. I’ve always believed that the EA protocols were a tremendous come-down for Byzantine supremacy. Having said that, the Phanar made a virtue out of necessity and planned on using whatever influence they had to throw sand in order to cause the gears of unity and independence. Arey for the first time feels safe enough to take off the mask of SCOBA and state what he actually believes, which is no autocephaly.

          This of course has been the implied desire of the Phanar and Arey being a good soldier is simply following orders. Of course, no one knows the future. It’s very possible that the EA will take on a life of its own. It will if the men on it let themselves be guided by the Holy Spirit.

          Another good thing for the future is that the interview itself (and AFR) are examples of an assertive, mature Church. Unlike the usual ecclesial media outlets which are merely mouthpieces that made the old Pravda look like a beacon of integrity, these guys are going to demand transparency and accountability.

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            Fr. Peter says:

            George,

            You are right John did a great job as usual and AFR is to be commended for what they are doing for the Church in the USA. One must remember, and this is my opinion only. OCN is voice of the GOA and only the GOA. Yes it is an agency of SCOBA but it is the voice of the GOA and therefore the voice of Istanbul!

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Fr Peter, from what I understand, AFR is in the top tier of web presences, as it deserves to be.

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      Dean Calvert says:

      Dear Fr. Peter,

      Didn’t you hear..”the day of the blogger is over”…LOL

      As far as John Maddex and AFR…he’s simply “the Best.” What a treasure to have been given to the Church.

      John did a wonderful job…but then, that’s the standard of excellence that we have ALL come to expect from him…

      It’s ironic, John is a convert, and sometimes sees himself as a little “outside” or “unknowing” of the Orthodox ways. What he doesn’t realize is that he represents the very essence of Orthodox laity of the first 15 centuries…educated, enlightened, knowledgeable and engaged.

      If it sounds like I’m a fan…please forgive me because I am.

      As far as the interview, I guess I should be honest, at the risk of sounding uncharitable – we’ve promoted such lame people to positions that they think merging organizations with a $20 million budget is something that needs “lots of study.” Oh please…

      I can’t help but contrast this talk, with it’s description of the huge obstacles to unity, with an earlier period of the Church’s history when the best and brightest became priests, bishops and patriarchs. St Cyril was a contemporary of St. Photios, probably two of the greatest minds in the world at the time, along with Leo the Mathematician, who the Caliph in Baghdad was willing to pay thousands of pounds of gold if he would only visit Baghdad and teach mathematics.

      The sad fact is that these obstacles are faced every single day in the world of Mergers and Acquisitions – with dollar amounts and complexity that makes the problems surrounding unity look like a walk in the park. There are people within an 8 iron shot of the GOA HQ who could do this by lunch tomorrow, and in their sleep.

      The complexity is a red herring – you either have the will to do this or you don’t…these things happen every single day in America. You want a complex problem, look at the recent acquisition by Pepsi of the two largest bottling companies…merging 3 units, doing billions of dollars into one entity – on the fly. Or taking Chrysler or GM thru bankruptcy in 30 days…GM having more employees than there are Orthodox in this country…let alone the dollars involved.

      From a financial/complexity/Mergers & Acquisition standpoint, this is child’s play. What’s missing is the leadership and the will.

      And that the “players” are cowed, or awed by the degree of complexity…only shows how far we’ve fallen.

      He is right about one thing though…it IS time for us to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

      And, by the way, there is one place that I’d really disagree with Fr. Mark – and that’s in the objective of this whole process. He says it’s to get ready for the Great and Holy Council.

      I say it’s to get ready for a united, local church.

      Best Regards,
      Dean

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        Michael Bauman says:

        All the complexity will come after unity as the bishops are faced with the pastoral task of establishing true theological and liturgical order. To name just one issue==preparation for Holy Communion. Right now the practice runs the gamut from Y’all come, to a requirement that the participant go to confession during the week prior to partaking with confessions going on right up to “Blessed is the Kingdom….”

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    Dean Calvert says:

    Hi Michael,

    First of all..you’re right. Those kind of issues are going to be complex, and will require some real decisions. And if that’s what I was hearing, I’d sympathize.

    But it’s not…what I’m hearing are two things – both of which are difficult to swallow:

    1.) Talk about “it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work…stop the commentary” and “It’s easy to criticize – especially when you are not responsible for doing the work” – to which you want to say, “I guess it’s even easier to be the main obstacle to change for 50 years, and then pretend that you’ve been the one moving the train down the path the whole time.” This degree of flip-flopping makes John Kerry look like a beacon of consistency. It’s really pathetic…”Come on in Fr. Mark, the water is great…it’s about time you stopped draining the pool.”

    and

    2.) Talk about obstacles which are dealt with successfully in business on a daily basis, but are made into enormous barriers simply because of the inexperience of the speaker. Put differently, and as my bishop always says, “There is no room for fear in Christ’s church.” There’s even less room for people, leaders in particular, who want to scare listeners by describing daunting obstacles…which are only daunting because you [the speaker] have no experience in solving them.

    That said, I have to tell you that I have ultimate faith in a synod of bishops being able to wrestle with and construct solutions to all of the problems we face. The sooner they start meeting on a regular basis, and working as a synod (Fr. Mark was very careful to distinguish this EA from a synod…good luck with that distinction), the sooner this ship will be sailing in the right direction again.

    Finally, it’s become apparent to me, in all these debates about the early American situation, that the Russian Mission (in it’s original form, and certainly under St. Tikhon) was Orthodoxy at it’s best. Think about it, they essentially tried to do the same thing as Sts Cyril and Methodios, just 1000 years later. Alphabet and all. Then, setting aside all the primacy BS, St. Tikhon is confronted with a tsunami of Orthodox immigrants, washing up on teh shores. The data shows almost 80,000 Greeks in 1905 alone.

    So what does he do…this Russian archbishop who was transplanted to America by fate? He approaches the problem as any good pastor AND manager would do…he comes up with a plan (ethnic dioceses), admittedly an innovation on Orthodox governance, to try to minister to the immigrants…not worrying about jurisdiction, not worrying about “primacy”, just worrying about SOULS… In the process, he writes to C’nople to get a Greek bishop to help execute his plan.

    My point, which I know is belabored, is this – we Orthodox have inherited an incredible faith, which includes NOT ONLY the fullest expression of Christ’s teachings, but ALSO an incredible system of governance which WORKS!!! A decentralized system will out do a centralized system in this environment every single time…and that’s what we’ve been bequeathed.

    If we will just trust it, and USE it…all of these fears will melt away like snow in 80 degrees. That’s what our leaders should be saying – because it’s the truth.

    I hope this made sense.

    best regards,
    dean

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    Dean Calvert says:

    Hi Michael,

    First of all..you’re right. Those kind of issues are going to be complex, and will require some real decisions. And if that was what I was hearing, I’d sympathize.

    But it’s not…what I’m hearing are two things – both of which are difficult to swallow:

    1.) Talk about “it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work…stop the commentary” and “It’s easy to criticize – especially when you are not responsible for doing the work” – to which you want to say, “I guess it’s even easier to be the main obstacle to change for 50 years, and then pretend that you’ve been the one moving the train down the path the whole time.” This degree of flip-flopping makes John Kerry look like a beacon of consistency. It’s really pathetic…”Come on in Fr. Mark, the water is great…it’s about time you stopped draining the pool.”

    and

    2.) Talk about obstacles which are dealt with successfully in business on a daily basis, but are made into enormous barriers simply because of the inexperience of the speaker. Put differently, and as my bishop always says, “There is no room for fear in Christ’s church.” There’s even less room for people, leaders in particular, who want to scare listeners by describing daunting obstacles…which are only daunting because you [the speaker] have no experience in solving them.

    That said, I have to tell you that I have ultimate faith in a synod of bishops being able to wrestle with and construct solutions to all of the problems we face. The sooner they start meeting on a regular basis, and working as a synod (Fr. Mark was very careful to distinguish this EA from a synod…good luck with that distinction), the sooner this ship will be sailing in the right direction again.

    Finally, it’s become apparent to me, in all these debates about the early American situation, that the Russian Mission (in it’s original form, and certainly under St. Tikhon) was Orthodoxy at it’s best. Think about it, they essentially tried to do the same thing as Sts Cyril and Methodios, just 1000 years later. Alphabet and all. Then, setting aside all the primacy BS, St. Tikhon is confronted with a tsunami of Orthodox immigrants, washing up on teh shores. The data shows almost 80,000 Greeks in 1905 alone.

    So what does he do…this Russian archbishop who was transplanted to America by fate? He approaches the problem as any good pastor AND manager would do…he comes up with a plan (ethnic dioceses), admittedly an innovation on Orthodox governance, to try to minister to the immigrants…not worrying about jurisdiction, not worrying about “primacy”, just worrying about SOULS… In the process, he writes to C’nople to get a Greek bishop to help execute his plan.

    My point, which I know is belabored, is this – we Orthodox have inherited an incredible faith, which includes NOT ONLY the fullest expression of Christ’s teachings, but ALSO an incredible system of governance which WORKS!!! A decentralized system will out do a centralized system in this environment every single time…and that’s what we’ve been bequeathed.

    If we will just trust it, and USE it…all of these fears will melt away like snow in 80 degrees. That’s what our leaders should be saying – because it’s the truth.

    I hope this made sense.

    best regards,
    dean

    PS and for those of you still wondering what the recent E.A. was really all about, including the sudden conversion of the EP into a Pan Orthodox proponent….perhaps this article, from The National Herald today is illuminating:

    ************************************************************************

    Time for a New Constantinople – in US

    Theodore Kalmoukos

    June 12, 2010

    BOSTON – The answer given by the American born Metropolitan Nikitas of Dardanellia, who served as Metropolitan of Hong Kong for a decade, as to why he is going to become a Turkish citizen was disarming when he said, “If it’s about strengthening the Patriarchate, I’ll do anything.” Regardless if someone agrees or disagrees with what he said, the reality is bitter that we have arrived an a beginning of the end point in Constantinople. The shrinkage of the Greek Community of Constantinople is nightmarish, and the lack of qualified persons at the Ecumenical Patriarchate is visible. Even just a passing look at the Patriarchal personnel is enough to understand this.

    We completely understand the anguish and the agony of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew about the survival and the future of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. We have said before that Patriarch Bartholomew is really a man gifted with many gifts from above, but it does not mean that he is infallible. Those who had the opportunity to get to know him close up would agree, I imagine, with the observation that his physical, as well as his spiritual strength is astonishing, since he is 70 years old already. It seems that the sensitive and serious issue of his succession at the Patriarchy concerns him a lot because he is prudent man and knows that no one is permanent on this earth, and that was the reason behind his move to request the Turkish government grant to hierarchs who live and minister outside of Turkey, as only a Turkish citizen can hold the Patriarchate post. The issue is delicate in many respects because it involves experiences, thoughts and historic memories Greeks carry with them through life. After all, the reality is that the Turks are the inexorable slaughterers and fragrant killers of Hellenism.

    The deserted and destroyed churches of Pontos and Asia Minor in which the Patriarch liturgizes once a year with special permission by the Turkish Authorities are the constant reminders of the Turkish atrocities. Also, the closed Theological School of Chalki and the St. Sophia Cathedral, the Great Church of Orthodoxy today are crying reminders of who the Turks really are. The reality is only one, and it is bitter, that the Turks have almost extinguished us but we continue to hope. I am of the opinion that it would have been better if instead asking the Turkish Prime Minister to grant to the hierarchs of the Ecumenical Throne who reside outside of Turkey with a ruling of his own of his cabinet – which can easily be overturned by another Turkish Prime Minister in the future – to instead ensure a constitutional regulation that would provide that all the Orthodox hierarchs everywhere or of the Greek Speaking Orthodox to be candidates for the Patriarchy and be able to vote. The one who would be elected Patriarch could then be granted Turkish citizenship. After all, there is the precedent of the late Patriarch Athenagoras who was elected Ecumenical Patriarch form Archbishop of America, and he traveled to Constantinople on the airplane of U.S. President Henry Truman, and the Turks handed him the Turkish citizenship the minute the aircraft arrived at Constantinople’s airport.

    This way the slavery and the embracement of the Orthodox Church will come to an end. Let me explain: the Synod of the Ecumenical patriarchate is obligated to submit the list of candidates for the Patriarchal Throne to the Turkish Government for approval. The government has the authority to delete from the list any hierarch considered unwanted. We are speaking about the silent tragedies of the Orthodox Church that, unfortunately, are widely unknown, especially in our Greek-American community.

    The Turks did not delete the current Patriarch’s name. Bartholomew was the most capable of all the hierarchs at the time some 20 years ago and naturally he was elected by the Synod to the Ecumenical Throne. Today at the Patriarchate there are just two or three hierarchs who could become Patriarchs. Time is flying, and Bartholomew realizes that his time is getting shorter and he has to think about his successor. After all, the Patriarchal role is pivotal for the life of the Church as the Primate. We may say and write that we follow the Synodal System but in actuality it is the Authority of the one man, the Patriarch, that counts.

    I like to state from the beginning that I believe fervently in the principle of the “unmovable things” according to the Pauline expression, and that the natural and historic See of the Ecumenical Patriarchate is the Queen City of Constantinople. On the other hand we should be realists. The myths, the thrills and the legends that say that “After the passing of time the sites will become ours…” are good because sometimes we need myths and thrills and legends to remind us of the past and the things of the past that we lost, but reality should make us touch down. Our generation has also its own historic responsibilities towards the Church and the Genos (Hellenism) and the responsibilities cannot be assumed with murmurs and sentimentalisms. We should begin to vision a New Constantinople here, yes, here in America. Let me reveal the vision:

    Let us purchase 200 acres of land in New York where the Greek-American population is mostly gathered, or in Washington to be more in accord with the Orthodox Ecclesiology since Washington is the capital of this country

    Erect a Patriarchal headquarters similar to the one that exists today at the Phanar and also a St. Sophia Cathedral after the architecture of the historic St. Sophia of Constantinople

    Name the area (the compound) New Constantinople and let the Patriarch use it as his winter headquarters

    Appoint a Patriarchal Tenens back in Constantinople in Turkey to take care the day to day responsibilities of the Archdiocese of Constantinople. Today’s high speed technology makes more than easy the communications and the Patriarch from New York or Washington will be on top of things all the time. The Patriarch will be able to move, act, decide, freely here in the U.S. without the pressures and the oppressions by the Turks

    The Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology I Boston to be named New Chalki and to be advanced to be the best Theological School of the world.

    All the Orthodox Jurisdictions of America to be submitted and united under the ecclesiastical and canonical order of the Ecumenical Patriarchate each keeping its cultural characteristics

    I am of the opinion that the Ecumenical patriarchate will not only (not) lose its ecumenicity, but on the contrary it will be strengthened or if I may use the expression it will be resurrected because as it is now it gives the impression that it is on death-way. We also need a fund to be established to collect 100 million dollars initially so the Patriarchate can draw for its operational expenses. I am certain that all the Orthodox faithful will contribute generously. The move of the Ecumenical Patriarchate will help the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and Greek American Community to rediscover their true and authentic ecclesial and cultural heritage. I believe that we will begin to discover what the Church is from what the Church is not. The same will apply to Hellenism which we have the tendency to confuse it with Helladism (Greekness.) When I speak of Hellenism in the ecclesial context I mean the fact that Hellenism is the historic cultural flesh of Orthodoxy and Christianity at large as a matter of fact.

    A new world is been forming and reforming, which passes us and leaves us behind. It seems that we have become “remnants” of another unquestionably glorious era, attached to the privileges and titles of the past which have become irrelevant today. Take for example the titles of the Archons. The vision proposed here is not an easy task, but I also believe that is doable if we dare to envision about the tomorrow of Orthodoxy and Hellenism.

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      George Michalopulos says:

      part of this new “party line” is that the OCA was granted autocephaly by churches that were “soviet dominated” as Arey stated. This was repeated today by Lambrianides in a more measured and respected lecture at SVS. Of course, the hypocrisy is astounding: C’pole has been “dominated” and oppressed by the Turks for half a millennium. This type of reasoning is either delusional or incapable of understanding simple logic.

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        Harry Coin says:

        George,

        Yes indeed, as I mentioned earlier. There is no consideration whatever about the propriety of who it is saying what about whom. Each seems quite capable of noting what is perfectly true about the other yet also having either intentional or pathological blindness to their own situation.

        It must not be overlooked that Russia’s cozying up to the Jesuit way of thinking for a time I think had a lot to do with the clergy attitudes that led to the many many Russian people thinking of ‘Romanovs’ and ‘Church’ as the same thing.

        Meanwhile a church in Turkey insists to view itself as ‘mother’ to a larger church here it had nothing whatever to do with starting, maintaining, financing or supplying clergy for. And from which it seeks sums of money and political support. And for which it has no qualms whatever using the Vatican’s path carved into US law when it suits.

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        Isa Almisry says:

        “new Party line indeed.” The idea of sweeping the OCA under the Soviet rug hasn’t yet explained how is it that communist dominated Romania, Serbia and Albania didn’t follow orders.

        The Soviet Union has been gone over two decades. The canon of limitations on objections to jurisdiction is 3. No one has rescinded their recognition.

        Btw, are we going to reconsider our elevation of Constantinople done under pressure from the Imperial Court?

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          Dean Calvert says:

          Isa,

          Re: Btw, are we going to reconsider our elevation of Constantinople done under pressure from the Imperial Court?

          Personally, I think reversing that decision ought to be agenda item NUMBER ONE at the upcoming Great and Holy Council – reorganizing the diptychs so that we no longer have “bishops with no people” speaking as if they do.

          C’nople hasn’t been an imperial capital for almost 600 years, and it hasn’t had parishioners since the 60’s.

          It’s time to recognize that simple fact…maybe Alexandria wants to be First Among Equals? As long as it’s a “live” See, I could care less who it is…make it Bucharest.

          Best Regards,
          Dean

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        Isa Almisry says:

        “This was repeated today by Lambrianides in a more measured and respected lecture at SVS.”

        Is it available on the net? What else did he say?

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          Tamara Northway says:
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            Isa Almisry says:

            Yes, I got it from orthodoxchristianity.net.

            Can we get the quesiton and answer session afterwards? Shepherd Hopebearer has some ‘splainin’ to do:

            Never try to Hellenize? Every Church ever under the Phanar’s boot knows otherwise.

            The Phanar isn’t an ethnarch? The poor fish doesn’t know he’s wet.

            How does he explain the FACT that Antioch, not Constantinople, gave Georgia autocephaly, and after Chalcedon 28? (see Georg, I told you it wasn’t dead).

            The Pope of Alexandria has been appointing bishops all over Africa, and bearing the title “of All Africa” for nearly a century. And no, not by the Phanar’s leave: Pope Meletius didn’t both to consult his successor as EP it seems on that.

            It still seems Shepheard Hopebearer hasn’t learned the history of Orthodoxy in America (he quotes someone mentioning St. Herman: does the Chief Secretary of the Phanar know who that is?)

            As to convening the PanOrthodox Councils, the Synod of Jerusalem was convened by its Patriarch, to combat the Calvinism coming into the Church via the Phanar.

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    Dean Calvert says:

    BTW – I just listened to the interview with Fr. Mark again.

    I’d really like to get a straight answer on this. Fr. Mark Arey, in answer to whether the OCA was commemorated in Moscow during the visit of the EP, said this:

    “No…not in the presence of His All Holiness…the diptychs were read according to the person with the seniority…the senior’s diptychs were read….they would have to commemorate according to Constantinople…because he senior to His Holiness Patriarch Kyrill.”

    That does not correspond with what we were told earlier.

    Can anyone confirm this?

    Best Regards,
    dean

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    Dean Calvert says:

    Isa,

    Personally, I am getting pretty tired of Fr. Mark giving seemingly definitive answers to things which bear no relation to reality.

    It’s time to go to the source on this one….to get a real answer. We may argue about lots of things…but at least we ought to be able to agree on whether something happened or it didn’t.

    I’ll let you know what i find out.

    Best Regards,
    Dean

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