Putting a Spolight on “Spotlight”

Finn’s Law: Never Attribute to Malice What Can be Equally Attributed to Stupidity.

[Preface to the evil religion blog posts is here.]

After the start of my online Twitter career, some moron threatened me because I even implied that someone out in the universe could be more corrupt than the Catholic Church.

Yes. Shocking, isn’t it?

This is my shocked face.2jpg


I didn’t defend anyone, didn’t consider defending anyone. I merely posted some statistics from John Jay University and the Department of Education.

And now, with the academy award winning film Spotlight deciding to delve once more into just how abusive the Catholic Church is, I think it’s time to plunge into the topic here a little, hmm? Even Andrew Vachss, who specializes in child abuse cases, has decided this is a great week to use the Catholic church as a punching bag.

My reply? Gee, there are abuses everywhere. Trying to claim that the Catholic church is evil because of the uncovered abuses is not only a lie, but a blatant and obvious lie to anyone who pays attention.


Dresden Files DF3 Michael with sword

Prepare for battle

Objection: “The Catholic Church was abusing children in the 1950s” …

Answer: Were there priests abusing children in the 1950s? Yes. Was it the entire church? No. The church figured abuse could always be handled “in house.” You know, kind of like how Doctors and cops and any other close-knit groups of people act. “Hey, we’ve got a problem, we don’t need to involve anyone else, do we?”

However, and even bigger problem than that was how they dealt with it in house. Their attitde was more like “Let’s ship them away, let’s put them away from any temptation, let’s put them in the drunk tank to ‘dry out’ for a few months. Then they’ll be better. They’ll be fixed.”

No, seriously, that was a thing. That was actually part of the thought process. Stupid, yes, but under mens rea, not necessarily evil. Because the church is in the redemption business, after all. If they can be redeemed, isn’t that something worth trying?

Yeah, no, it wasn’t, because the recidivism rate is near 100%.

So, why would they do this? Why would anyone believe something that eye-bleedingly, brain-dead, stupid? Aside from the fact that it was the 1950s and they could plead ignorance about recidivism?


Facepalm Godzilla

I’m serious. The Church relied on medical professionals, on “science,” instead of listening to one of their own priests, who told them to boot their sorry asses to the curb. Or maybe a woodchipper (but that’s just me).

Father Gerald Fitzgerald, founder of a group known as “AA for priests” (link above), noticed in 1952 that abusive priests were not being “cured,” and suggested firing them. The Church overruled him, and relied instead on psychologists. Even Boston Cardinal Bernard Law (remember him?) sent pederasts to psychologists for screening and treatment, and got clinical approval to put them back on the pulpit.

He got approval! By psychologists! Can we find out who these shrinks are, and then get them locked in general population for a week at the nearest prison?

(I suspect that Law himself was transferred to Rome under the heading of “this moron needs to be watched.”)

And that’s what we get for trying to be hip, up-to-date, and “modern.”

You see, a perfectly “medieval” church would have settled this the easy way. A whole bunch of villagers could have taken out the local pederast and thrown him in the river after a whole bunch of Unpleasant Things had been done to his body. Problem solved. Easy.

But nooooo, Rome had to rely on “science” (psychology is a Bachelors of Arts degree, not of science). The Church was perfectly modern about it. Perfectly understanding about it … The professionals knew what they were talking about …

And if anyone had just asked my opinion, someone would have been served an enema of hydrofluoric acid…

Actually, Ireland had the best response. One professor of mine, back at St. John’s University, complained about a pederast who had been shipped “out of the way” from the Republic of Ireland. He shook his head and muttered repeatedly about how shameful it was. The pederast in question had been shipped to Belfast … the highly-violent, gun-toting, Catholic-killing slums of Belfast.

When I asked if anyone had heard from the priest ever again, the professor said, “Not that I know of, why?”

I didn’t have the heart to explain to this fellow that they weren’t “hiding” him; it’s as close as they could get to an execution.

Pardon me while I laugh maniacally.

Humor - Dark

Anyway …

To get back to the conversation in general, I’m not sure how many people understood the concept of 100% recidivism in the 1950s. I’m also not sure how many do today. For example, I have a friend. He had been abused in grammar school, by a father-son pederasty team. Ever since the bastards were put away, he and his fellow victims have been ridiculed, lambasted, accused of lying, of being bribed, of everything under the sun short of being serial killers. He still lives with this, today, and all of this was over two public school teachers.

Now, tell me, what would someone like him have gone through in 1950s America if the abusers were priests? Tell me the traumas wouldn’t have been compounded with public attention …?

And if someone asked my opinion…

Moving on.

Objection: “Yes, but priests are still being moved around!”

Answer: Again, you mean the ones that aren’t thrown in jail because the Catholic church threw them there? We can go for two possible answers. As I said above, priests within a closed system are protecting their own bad apples … like Doctors and Policemen have been known to do … and politicians, and lawyers, and most other human organizations on the planet ….

However, my thought? I suspect the answer is bureaucratic inertia.

Nope, I’m dead serious.

Consider: most priests being hauled away in handcuffs entered the priesthood before psychological screenings were in place. All of their bosses entered when the accepted method of dealing with abusers was to send them to therapy. The whole upper administration is populated by people who were taught that psychology could fix these offenders.

Cardinal Law, mentioned above, is a prime example …

And, I want to ask this one more time: If these people were sent to shrinks, what freaking moron declared them fit for duty?

Finn’s Law: Never Attribute to Malice What Can be Equally Attributed to Stupidity.


Objection: “Yes, but priests are all baby-rapers!”

I love this argument too. Why?

The biggest number I’ve ever seen on pederasty in the church is a possible 8% of priests of OF THE LAST FIFTY YEARS. It’s probably 4% or less, according to John Jay University, who did a study on this… click on this link to find it.

Let’s look a little closer.

About 4 percent of U.S. priests ministering from 1950 to 2002 were accused of sex abuse with a minor, according to the first comprehensive national study of the issue.

The study said that 4,392 clergymen—almost all priests—were accused of abusing 10,667 people, with 75 percent of the incidents taking place between 1960 and 1984. [Author’s note: before psychological screening was in place]

During the same time frame there were 109,694 priests, it said…..

The study, released in Washington Feb. 27, [2003] was commissioned by the U.S. bishops’ National Review Board, ….

The study said the sharp decline in abuse incidents since 1984 coupled with the declining percentage of accusations against priests ordained in recent years “presents a more positive picture” than the overall statistics.

It said that 68 percent of the allegations were made against priests ordained between 1950 and 1979, while priests ordained after 1979 accounted for 10.7 percent of the allegations……

Regarding substantiated allegations against priests in ministry at the time, the most common action by church authorities was to send the priest for medical evaluation or treatment, said the study.

Although most of the incidents occurred before 1985, two-thirds of the allegations have been reported since 1993 …..

Hmm, so as time goes on, there seem to be fewer and fewer of these bastards. Funny that.

So, the US Bishops go to a secular authority in criminal justice, and make them look through all of their records. It’s sort of hard to pull the wool over the eyes of people who work at John Jay University. And I suspect most Bishops get up around noon.

Trying to make a claim that there are sooo many hidden — keep in mind, would you, that the 10,667 number is the number of victims that they are accused of abusing. Not convicted. Not investigated and cleared. Simply the accusations. Who keeps paperwork like that?

Welcome to the Catholic Church, we keep records on everything. Even accusations.

But no, we hide everything … except that the Catholic church is the only one that seems to keep records of the accusation and suspected abuse.

Seriously, people, if the church were trying to hide it, these reports would have either never been written down, or would have been fed into a paper shredder.


Objection: So what? Why are so many pederasts priests?

Let me think, why would child molesters try to get into the priesthood …? For the same reason they would be camp counselors and teachers, easy access. Protestants have a worse rate of pederasts, and the teachers…

Ah, teachers…

Nerd 1 nerd-rage

Statistics professor Charol Shakeshaft, of the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation, estimates the between 1991 and 2000, 290,000 students were sexually abused by public school teachers and personnel. One in every ten American children has been sexually abused at school. And only 1% of allegations were investigated by the school board.

Catholic priests have had 10,667 allegations (not convictions, allegations) between 1950 and 2002.Of those allegations, 3% ended in a guilty verdict. 3%. So, hmm, at the end of the day, out of 4,392 accused priests, only about 131 were convicted over anything

About 131 schmucks have been used as a stigma on an entire religion. Hmmm….

Now, obviously, some accusations turned out to be false, and some turned out to be not proven …. and let’s assume that some were never reported, because some aren’t. So, let’s assume these numbers cancel each other out, and stick with 10,667 victims.

So, wait — in nine years, public school teachers have abused twenty-nine times the number of children than an entire profession of priests over the course of sixty years?

On average, abusive priests have been accused of going after 810 kids per year, but the public schools have assaulted 32,000 per annum …

Wow, Catholic Conspiracies? Really? Rome has nothing on the teachers union….

And blaming any group for what less than 1% of it’s members have done over the course of five decades is unfair, and misleading. But I’ve learned to live with it.

Objection: “Yes, but priests abuse so many … ”

At the end of the day, do you know how much Catholic priest pederasty count for the worldwide crimes of pederasty? 1%. They account for one percent of all sexually abused children on the planet. And most of that abuse is done by straight men who are married to the mother of their victims.

The priesthood, the Church, everyone in Catholicism, is raked over the coals because a minority of their priests are scumbags who should be set on fire, all of whom were ordained before psychology was able to screen them out of the priesthood.

Proper psychological screenings were in place by the early 1990s, and we haven’t had many, if any, problems with anyone who had been ordained after that. A proper system for reporting and investigating this crime was only recently established around the late 1990s, by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who is now better known by another name, Pope Benedict XVI. And he was rather pissed about the whole thing, defrocking over 400 priests WORLDWIDE (the 131 number was United States only). John Paul II was also annoyed, but his indignation was limited since he was busy dying. Don’t even ask me what Pope Francis is doing about it right now, though I’m told he’s also on the ball about it.

The only reason anyone knows about the Catholic priesthood and their scumbags is because the Catholic Church keeps record of everything, so these bastards can be hunted down and dealt with. One way or another.

Hmm … Before psychological screenings, and there were only 131 psychopaths let through. That’s actually not bad.

Granted, thanks to “medical advice,” some thought they could be “cured.”

But remember: Never Attribute to Malice What Can be Equally Attributed to Stupidity.

Objection: “Yes, but they should all be taken out and dealt with harshly.”

Oh, I’m an even bigger proponent of harsh treatment than anybody. See above for hydrofluoric acid. In fact, I would say “let’s out and hunt down and murder every last one of the bastards, without trial.” My way would be to introduce painful methods of harm that would be recorded, and later shown to terrorists and Guantanamo Bay, and the terrorists would be given an option: this, or waterboarding.

Occam's Shotgun

My solution

But that’s me. And I am a moderately deranged writer, who channels homicidal tendencies into novels, and I’m also the proud owner of a “Waterboarding Instructor” t-shirt.

But, courts and laws should be fair. We can agree to that, right? I mean, hell, if we wanted to, we could sign a law, and rid all statutes of limitations on all pederasts, forever. Period. I’m for that, how about you? Are you for that? I mean, why not?

Well, it doesn’t matter, because no one listens to us … dang it.

Here’s my problem. You have folks in the ACLU who cry out against pederast priests, and “lets go after them at every conceivable opportunity, no matter how old they are, or how old their crimes are”….

And they represent the North American Man-Boy Love Association at the same time. The motto of NAMBLA: Eight is too Late.

Screw this people.


You know what? Let’s say the anti-theists are right. Let’s say we get rid of all the churches on the entire planet. Let’s get rid of the Catholic church.

Let all of the pederasts go into public school teaching, that way, they’ll never get caught. They won’t even be investigated.

Now, if I were some people, I could take a look at the 32,000 abused children a year, and I could twist it, and I would say “Let’s burn down the public schools, and shoot all the teachers.” This is more or less the logic I have seen applied to the Catholic Church in this regard … but that logic is stupid, misleading, and psychotic. Moreso than I am, anyway.


But, since I am a far more reasonable person than those nut cases, can I suggest that professions where children are easily accessible will always have problems, because pederasts will always try to get into those institutions, and it’s hard to screen everybody? And that some psychos will get in, one way or another, eventually, because we can’t read people’s minds?

But, for the record, I’m sending my kid to Catholic school. Or home schooling. Because my children have a better shot of being struck by lightning than being abused by a Catholic priest. And, in the occasion of a priest or Catholic school teacher abusing my kid, I know that the New York Times will come to my defense should he be doused in gasoline and set on fire. You know, by accident.

At the end of the day, I think I can summarize my argument as follows: Doctors kill more people per year than car crashes, yet we still go to them. A handful of psychos gamed a bureaucracy that’s slow to adapt, only the bureaucracy is made up of priests. It is an invalid argument to say that just because a small percentage were corrupt, and some were too stupid to know how to deal with them, every one of them is just as corrupt. Like every bureaucracy, it’s slow and it’s stupid. And …. everyone with me now ….

Never Attribute to Malice What Can be Equally Attributed to Stupidity.

The entire scandal is a fabrication – not that children were abused, but that the Church “did nothing.” When problems first appeared in the 1950s, Church officials consulted psychologists, who “treated” the accused and declared them cured. The priests who grew up with this method of dealing with pederasts were officials when the later scandals broke. Even Cardinal Law of Boston sent abusers to psychological therapy.

stupid things the Catholic church has done

The true scandal is that the therapists were not sued, then hung, drawn and quartered for recommending that these priests be allowed back out among the general public.

Pope John Paul II did not let abusive priests go free under his watch. After the 1980s scandal, new screenings were put in place to keep new abusers from entering. When the second scandal broke at the start of the century, he had Cardinal Ratzinger establish a system for investigating these crimes. The problems of the scandals started when the Church broke from tradition – tradition would have had these priests immediately thrown out. Medieval tradition would have defrocked them, assuming the church could get to these priests before the local townspeople. When the Church tried a “modern” cure, that is when things started to go awry. Ironically, John Paul II was also criticized during his life for being too traditional in his thinking. We should be grateful that he was.

And, below you can see all of the rules and regulations the Church now has for stopping predator priests. Thanks again to then-Cardinal Ratzinger.

So the next time that someone tells you how evil the Catholic church is, you know how to handle them.




Oh, and this is the full text of fully revised and updated guidelines. I feel like I need an appendix.

The Tablet Speeches

Rome’s updated child protection guidelines

Posted by Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 16 May 2011, 9:00

Circular letter to assist Episcopal Conferences in developing Guidelines for dealing with cases of sexual abuse of minors perpetrated by clerics

Among the important responsibilities of the Diocesan Bishop in his task of assuring the common good of the faithful and, especially, the protection of children and of the young, is the duty he has to give an appropriate response to the cases of sexual abuse of minors by clerics in his diocese. Such a response entails the development of procedures suitable for assisting the victims of such abuse, and also for educating the ecclesial community concerning the protection of minors. A response will also make provision for the implementation of the appropriate canon law, and, at the same time, allow for the requirements of civil law.

I. General considerations:

a) The victims of sexual abuse:

The Church, in the person of the Bishop or his delegate, should be prepared to listen to the victims and their families, and to be committed to their spiritual and psychological assistance. In the course of his Apostolic trips our Holy Father, Benedict XVI, has given an eminent model of this with his availability to meet with and listen to the victims of sexual abuse. In these encounters the Holy Father has focused his attention on the victims with words of compassion and support, as we read in his Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland (n.6): “You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry. I know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured. Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated.”

b) The protection of minors:

In some countries programs of education and prevention have been begun within the Church in order to ensure “safe environments” for minors. Such programs seek to help parents as well as those engaged in pastoral work and schools to recognize the signs of abuse and to take appropriate measures. These programs have often been seen as models in the commitment to eliminate cases of sexual abuse of minors in society today.

c) The formation of future priests and religious:

In 2002, Pope John Paul II stated, “there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young” (n. 3, Address to the American Cardinals, 23 April 2002). These words call to mind the specific responsibility of Bishops and Major Superiors and all those responsible for the formation of future priests and religious. The directions given in the Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis as well as the instructions of the competent Dicasteries of the Holy See take on an even greater importance in assuring a proper discernment of vocations as well as a healthy human and spiritual formation of candidates. In particular, candidates should be formed in an appreciation of chastity and celibacy, and the responsibility of the cleric for spiritual fatherhood. Formation should also assure that the candidates have an appreciation of the Church’s discipline in these matters. More specific directions can be integrated into the formation programs of seminaries and houses of formation through the respective Ratio institutionis sacerdotalis of each nation, Institute of Consecrated Life and Society of Apostolic Life.

Particular attention, moreover, is to be given to the necessary exchange of information in regard to those candidates to priesthood or religious life who transfer from one seminary to another, between different dioceses, or between religious Institutes and dioceses.

d) Support of Priests

1. The bishop has the duty to treat all his priests as father and brother. With special attention, moreover, the bishop should care for the continuing formation of the clergy, especially in the first years after Ordination, promoting the importance of prayer and the mutual support of priestly fraternity. Priests are to be well informed of the damage done to victims of clerical sexual abuse. They should also be aware of their own responsibilities in this regard in both canon and civil law. They should as well be helped to recognize the potential signs of abuse perpetrated by anyone in relation to minors;

2. In dealing with cases of abuse which have been denounced to them the bishops are to follow as thoroughly as possible the discipline of canon and civil law, with respect for the rights of all parties;

3. The accused cleric is presumed innocent until the contrary is proven. Nonetheless the bishop is always able to limit the exercise of the cleric’s ministry until the accusations are clarified. If the case so warrants, whatever measures can be taken to rehabilitate the good name of a cleric wrongly accused should be done.

e) Cooperation with Civil Authority

Sexual abuse of minors is not just a canonical delict but also a crime prosecuted by civil law. Although relations with civil authority will differ in various countries, nevertheless it is important to cooperate with such authority within their responsibilities. Specifically, without prejudice to the sacramental internal forum, the prescriptions of civil law regarding the reporting of such crimes to the designated authority should always be followed. This collaboration, moreover, not only concerns cases of abuse committed by clerics, but also those cases which involve religious or lay persons who function in ecclesiastical structures.

II. A brief summary of the applicable canonical legislation concerning the delict of sexual abuse of minors perpetrated by a cleric:

On 30 April 2001, Pope John Paul II promulgated the motu proprio Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela [SST], by which sexual abuse of a minor under 18 years of age committed by a cleric was included in the list of more grave crimes (delicta graviora) reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). Prescription for this delict was fixed at 10 years beginning at the completion of the 18th year of the victim. The norm of the motu proprio applied both to Latin and Eastern clerics, as well as for diocesan and religious clergy.

In 2003, Cardinal Ratzinger, then Prefect of the CDF, obtained from Pope John Paul II the concession of some special faculties in order to provide greater flexibility in conducting penal processes for these more grave delicts. These measures included the use of the administrative penal process, and, in more serious cases, a request for dismissal from the clerical state ex officio. These faculties have now been incorporated in the revision of the motu proprio approved by the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, on 21 May 2010. In the new norms prescription, in the case of abuse of minors, is set for 20 years calculated from the completion of the 18th year of age of the victim. In individual cases, the CDF is able to derogate from prescription when indicated. The canonical delict of acquisition, possession or distribution of pedopornography is also specified in this revised motu proprio.

The responsibility for dealing with cases of sexual abuse of minors belongs, in the first place, to Bishops or Major Superiors. If an accusation seems true the Bishop or Major Superior, or a delegate, ought to carry out the preliminary investigation in accord with CIC can. 1717, CCEO can. 1468, and SST art. 16.

If the accusation is considered credible, it is required that the case be referred to the CDF. Once the case is studied the CDF will indicate the further steps to be taken. At the same time, the CDF will offer direction to assure that appropriate measures are taken which both guarantee a just process for the accused priest, respecting his fundamental right of defense, and care for the good of the Church, including the good of victims. In this regard, it should be noted that normally the imposition of a permanent penalty, such as dismissal from the clerical state, requires a penal judicial process. In accord with canon law (cf. CIC can. 1342) the Ordinary is not able to decree permanent penalties by extrajudicial decree. The matter must be referred to the CDF which will make the definitive judgement on the guilt of the cleric and his unsuitability for ministry, as well as the consequent imposition of a perpetual penalty (SST art. 21, �2).

The canonical measures applied in dealing with a cleric found guilty of sexual abuse of a minor are generally of two kinds: 1) measures which completely restrict public ministry or at least exclude the cleric from any contact with minors. These measures can be reinforced with a penal precept; 2) ecclesiastical penalties, among which the most grave is the dismissal from the clerical state.

In some cases, at the request of the cleric himself, a dispensation from the obligations of the clerical state, including celibacy, can be given pro bono Ecclesiae.

The preliminary investigation, as well as the entire process, ought to be carried out with due respect for the privacy of the persons involved and due attention to their reputations.

Unless there are serious contrary indications, before a case is referred to the CDF, the accused cleric should be informed of the accusation which has been made, and given the opportunity to respond to it. The prudence of the bishop will determine what information will be communicated to the accused in the course of the preliminary investigation.

It remains the duty of the Bishop or the Major Superior to provide for the common good by determining what precautionary measures of CIC can. 1722 and CCEO can. 1473 should be imposed. In accord with SST art. 19, this can be done once the preliminary investigation has been initiated.

Finally, it should be noted that, saving the approval of the Holy See, when a Conference of Bishops intends to give specific norms, such provisions must be understood as a complement to universal law and not replacing it. The particular provisions must therefore be in harmony with the CIC / CCEO as well as with the motu proprio Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela (30 April 2001) as updated on 21 May 2010. In the event that a Conference would decide to establish binding norms it will be necessary to request the recognitio from the competent Dicasteries of the Roman Curia.

III. Suggestions for Ordinaries on Procedures:

The Guidelines prepared by the Episcopal Conference ought to provide guidance to Diocesan Bishops and Major Superiors in case they are informed of allegations of sexual abuse of minors by clerics present in the territory of their jurisdiction. Such Guidelines, moreover, should take account of the following observations:

a.) the notion of “sexual abuse of minors” should concur with the definition of article 6 of the motu proprio SST (“the delict against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue committed by a cleric with a minor below the age of eighteen years”), as well as with the interpretation and jurisprudence of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, while taking into account the civil law of the respective country;

b.) the person who reports the delict ought to be treated with respect. In the cases where sexual abuse is connected with another delict against the dignity of the sacrament of Penance (SST art. 4), the one reporting has the right to request that his or her name not be made known to the priest denounced (SST art. 24).;

c.) ecclesiastical authority should commit itself to offering spiritual and psychological assistance to the victims;

d.) investigation of accusations is to be done with due respect for the principle of privacy and the good name of the persons involved;

e.) unless there are serious contrary indications, even in the course of the preliminary investigation, the accused cleric should be informed of the accusation, and given the opportunity to respond to it.

f.) consultative bodies of review and discernment concerning individual cases, foreseen in some places, cannot substitute for the discernment and potestas regiminis of individual bishops;

g.) the Guidelines are to make allowance for the legislation of the country where the Conference is located, in particular regarding what pertains to the obligation of notifying civil authorities;

h.) during the course of the disciplinary or penal process the accused cleric should always be afforded a just and fit sustenance;

i.) the return of a cleric to public ministry is excluded if such ministry is a danger for minors or a cause of scandal for the community.


The Guidelines developed by Episcopal Conferences seek to protect minors and to help victims in finding assistance and reconciliation. They will also indicate that the responsibility for dealing with the delicts of sexual abuse of minors by clerics belongs in the first place to the Diocesan Bishop. Finally, the Guidelines will lead to a common orientation within each Episcopal Conference helping to better harmonize the resources of single Bishops in safeguarding minors.

Rome, from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 3 May 2011

William Cardinal Levada


+ Luis F. Ladaria, S.J.

Tit. Archbishop of Thibica


[00714-02.01] [Original text: Italian]

About Declan Finn

Declan Finn is the author of Honor at Stake, an urban fantasy novel, nominated for Best Horror in the first annual Dragon Awards. He has also written The Pius Trilogy, an attempt to take Dan Brown to the woodshed in his own medium -- soon to be republished by Silver Empire Press. Finn has also written "Codename: Winterborn," an SF espionage thriller, and it's follow-up, "Codename: Winterborn." And "It was Only on Stun!" and "Set To Kill" are murder mysteries at a science fiction convention.
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