November 29, 2010

VATICAN CITY,  (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office at midday Friday a press conference was held to present the “Vatican Foundation: Joseph Ratzinger - Benedict XVI”. The conference was presented by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, president of the foundation’s academic committee; Msgr. Giuseppe Antonio Scotti, president of the foundation, and Fr. Stephan Otto Horn S.D.S, president of the “Ratzinger Schulerkreis” and of the “Joseph Ratzinger Papst Benedict XVI - Siftung”.

Msgr. Scotti explained how on 1 March this year the Holy Father had ordered the creation of a new foundation, with the name of “Vatican Foundation: Joseph Ratzinger - Benedict XVI”, in order “to respond to a desire expressed by many scholars over the course of the years”. As regards the financing of the new body, he explained, “a first ample contribution will come from the Pontiff himself, who has chosen to devolve a large part of the proceeds from his author rights”.

For his part Cardinal Ruini explained how, apart from himself, the academic committee will be composed of Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B.; Cardinal Angelo Amato S.D.B. prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints; Archbishop Jean-Louis Brugues O.P., secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, and Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer S.J., prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The committee will have three tasks, he said, “firstly, drawing up criteria and objectives for the annual and long-term programme of the foundation’s activities; secondly, establishing criteria of excellence for the creation and conferral of prizes to scholars who have distinguished themselves in academic publications and/or research; and finally, organising cultural and academic initiatives”.

“The theology of Joseph Ratzinger moves forward, looking to the present and the future on the basis of an extraordinary knowledge of the origins and history of the Christian faith. His capacity, what I would call his tastefulness, in keeping these two aspects united … likens Joseph Ratzinger to great teachers of other periods of Christian history. It is no coincidence that the foundation which bears his name will focus particular attention, on the one hand on biblical and patristic studies, and on the other on fundamental theology. The aim is to bring out the truth, significance and beauty of Christianity in its relationship with contemporary culture and society”.

Fr. Horn then spoke to explain that, even before Cardinal Ratzinger’s election to the papacy, his students had thought of creating a Joseph Ratzinger Foundation. “Not only did they feel profound gratitude towards their teacher”, he said, “but they were also deeply convinced of the importance of his theology for the Church. … In the meeting of the ‘Schulerkreis’ with the Holy Father at Castelgandolfo in 2007 we received his approval to create an autonomous foundation”.

This foundation, Fr. Horn went on, “has a clear direction and broad ranging projects. Its goal is to promote the study of Joseph Ratzinger’s theology and spirituality, propagating his ideas in the Church and society, and ensuring they are absorbed. Thus will his memory be conserved for the future”.

One of the foundation’s projects concerns the University of Regensburg “with the creation of chair for a visiting professor in the faculty of theology during the summer term”. In September this year a “Benediktakdemie” (Benedict Academy) for young students was held at Salzburg in Austria, while in Rome (in collaboration with the “Casa Balthasar”, an institution for discerning vocations in young Catholic men) there is a plan to crate a study centre for theology and spirituality. “And we have also”, Fr. Horn concluded, “collected the recollections of more than forty of Joseph Ratzinger’s former students in order to establish an archive”.


November 4, 2010

VATICAN CITY (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office at midday today a preference was held to present the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Culture, which is due to be held from 10 to 13 November on the theme: “The Culture of Communication and New Languages”.

Participating in today’s press conference were Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, Msgr. Pasquale Iacobone and Richard Rouse, respectively president, head of the “Art and Faith” department, and head of the “Communication and Languages” department of the Pontifical Council for Culture, and Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller of Regensburg, Germany, who is a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

Msgr. Iacobone explained how the plenary will examine “the use of language and communication to study the current situation and suggest guidelines for action in the evangelising mission of the Church”.

The participants in the plenary will discuss “the new languages, in particular cinema, music, figurative and plastic arts, the internet and multimedia platforms, in order to discover the words, colours, sounds and images capable of presenting Christian life as a valid experience for everyone today.

“In order to favour inter-personal communication there will be no written texts to read or follow but conversations with experts such as Ennio Morricone, Dario Vigano, Robert Barron and the managing director of Microsoft Italia”. Msgr. Iacobone explained.

The plenary will also serve to examine “the characteristics of interactivity and participation, of clarity and simplicity - while avoiding simplification - and to study figurative and narrative languages in order to transmit to our fellows what we have received”.

Bishop Muller then presented the twelfth German-language volume of Joseph Ratzinger’s “Opera Omina”, entitled “Kunder des Wortes und Diener eurer Freude - Theologie und Spiritualitat des Weihesakramentes” (Announcers of the Word and Servants of your Joy. Theology and Spirituality of the Sacrament of Holy Orders).

Bishop Muller, who is overseeing the publication of the complete works of Joseph Ratzinger, explained how the contents of this latest volume cover nearly half a century, beginning with a number of texts which predate by some years the opening of Vatican Council II. “That fundamental event in recent ecclesiastical history is usually associated, depending on the point of view, with the beginning of a transformation in keeping with the spirit of the times, or with a profound crisis in the Church and particularly in the priesthood”, he said.

In section “A” of the book, entitled “Theology of the Sacrament of Holy Orders”, Joseph Ratzinger analyses the causes of this crisis and “illustrates the biblical foundation and coherent historical-dogmatic development of the Sacrament of Holy Orders”. In section “B”, entitled “Servants of your Joy”, readers will find “a collection of meditations on spirituality already published as an individual book with the same title”. Section “C” contains “various homilies delivered on the occasion of consecrations of priests and deacons, first Masses and jubilees”.

“In order to rediscover priestly identity in the relationship with Christ we must be ready to consider ourselves as servants of the Word and witnesses of God in the succession of Christ, and to live in communion with Him. To this end, the priest must have a good theological formation and a permanent reference in academic theology”.

With the writings in this book Joseph Ratzinger “indicates the way out of the crisis into which the Catholic priesthood has fallen as a result of inadequate theological and sociological approaches, and of declarations that tend to arouse in many priests who began their journey with love and zeal, a sense of insecurity and discomfort concerning their role within the Church”. This volume, Bishop Muller concluded, “achieves the desire of its author to dedicate an entire book of his complete works to the theology of the Sacrament of Holy Orders”.

Bishop Vasa: Individual Bishops Trump Conference Every Time

September 23, 2010

By Patrick B. Craine

( - The authority of the Catholic bishop within his own diocese trumps the national bishops’ conference and “no bishop has an obligation” to adopt the conference’s documents, asserted Bishop Robert Vasa of Baker, Oregon in a landmark talk last week.

“Such documents do not become normative for a particular diocese unless the bishop, either explicitly or implicitly, recommends them,” he told the 2010 InsideCatholic Partnership Award Dinner last Thursday.

Catholic bishops who boldly promote life and family in their diocese have often been condemned for acting more strongly than the national conference of bishops (USCCB), for example by refusing Communion to pro-abortion politicians.  Similarly, pro-life and pro-family advocates have long complained that conference statements are vague and confusing, even misleading.

Deal Hudson of InsideCatholic said Bishop Vasa is the first U.S. bishop he is aware of to tackle “the prevalent misunderstanding” over the relation between the authority of the individual bishop versus that of the USCCB.  Judie Brown, president of American Life League and a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, agreed.  “Having been involved in this for over 35 years, I can tell you that this speech is long overdue,” she said.

According to Bishop Vasa, statements from bishops’ conferences necessarily tend to be “flattened” and “vague,” allowing certain teachings to “fall by the wayside through what could be called, charitably, a kind of benign pastoral neglect.”

While some call this compassion, “in truth, it often entails a complicity or a compromise with evil,” he says.  “The harder and less popular teachings are left largely unspoken, thereby implicitly giving tacit approval to erroneous or misleading theological opinions.”

“I fear that there has been such a steady diet of such flattened documents that anything issued by individual bishops that contains some element of strength,” he says, “is readily and roundly condemned or simply dismissed as being out of touch with the conference or in conflict with what other bishops might do.”

This matter has often come up in the realm of life and family issues.  For example, during the 2008 U.S. federal election campaign Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton was forced to assert his episcopal authority within his diocese after a liberal group used the USCCB document on voting (Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship) to argue that Catholics can vote for a pro-abortion candidate.

“No USCCB document is relevant in this diocese,” he insisted, telling them they should have discussed his own pastoral letter where he insisted that Catholics must vote pro-life.

Likewise, while the USCCB has allowed distribution of Communion to pro-abortion politicians – contrary to a letter sent them by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger at the time of their deliberation – numerous bishops, such as Archbishop Raymond Burke, when he was in St. Louis, have forbidden it.

According to Bishop Vasa, pastoral documents “are open to a broad range of interpretation and misinterpretation. … A charge could be brought that such documents are intentionally vague and misleading.”

“While I have had an occasional suspicion of this myself, it would be a serious defect of charity on my part to speculate about whether this is actually the case,” he continued.  “I would say that the vagueness, whether intentional or not, has occasionally been a cause of concern and even consternation.”

While he says the conference is “both practical and desirable” for communication and joint efforts such as liturgical translations and disaster relief, Bishop Vasa notes there is “room for concern about the tendency of the conference to take on a life of its own and to begin to replace or displace the proper role of individual bishops, even in their own dioceses.”

“It is easy to forget that the conference is the vehicle to assist bishops in cooperating with each other and not a separate regulatory commission,” he added.  Further, he noted that “there may also be an unfortunate tendency on the part of bishops to abdicate to the conference a portion of their episcopal role and duty.”

Compared to the “flattened documents” that often result from “the search for consensus,” statements from individual bishops, he says, “are often stronger, bolder, more decisive, and thus more likely to be criticized as harsh and insensitive.”

Gentle appeals have their place, he says, “but when constant appeal produces absolutely no movement toward self-correction, reform or conversion, then reproving and correcting, become necessary.”

“At some point, there needs to be a bold resistance to the powers of the world in defense of the flock,” he continues.  “The fear of offending one contemptuously dissident member of the flock often redounds to a failure to defend the flock. It can redound to a failure to teach the truth.”

“Fortunately, courage is contagious,” he notes, pointing to the examples of courage provided by prelates such as Archbishop Raymond Burke, and Bishops Joseph Martino, Thomas Tobin, Thomas Olmsted, and Fabian Bruskewitz.  “These men all encourage you, and they encourage me as well,” he says.

“On the issues of life and marriage, many Catholics want a strong voice and one that is prophetic,” said Deal Hudson.  “They don’t want the voice of some committee trying to be diplomatic to everybody.”

Judie Brown said Bishop Vasa has sent “a cannon over the bow of the USCCB,” putting the conference bureaucracy “in the proper perspective.”  “They aren’t teachers of the Catholic faith, they are not shepherds, and they are literally destroying the Church by misrepresenting Catholic teaching,” she said.

Find the full address at the InsideCatholic website here.

EWTN to Air Pope’s Historic U.K. Visit Live

August 17, 2010

IRONDALE, Ala.,  (MetroCatholic) — EWTN Global Catholic Network will provide live coverage of every public event during Pope Benedict XVI’s historic visit to England and Scotland Sept. 16-19, numerous original productions on the life and works of Cardinal John Henry Newman, who will be beatified by the Pope during his visit, and exclusive behind-the-scenes footage and interviews.

Coverage will be seen and heard on all nine EWTN Television Networks worldwide, and can be heard in English, Spanish, French and German; on EWTN Radio Network, and at through live streaming video. (Find EWTN Television at and EWTN Radio at or on Sirius Satellite Channel 160.)

Special live coverage will be provided by EWTN News Anchor Raymond Arroyo, who has covered more papal events than anyone in the industry and who obtained the only English language interview in existence today with the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. (Contact EWTN to arrange an interview.)

“To my mind, this visit to the U.K. is to Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy what Pope John Paul II’s visit to Poland was to his,” said “World Over” Host Raymond Arroyo, who will anchor EWTN’s coverage. “Not enough attention is being paid to the historicity of this seismic moment.”

EWTN’s coverage of these events will include exclusive interviews with Deacon John “Jack” Sullivan, who prayed to Newman for healing after watching a series on the saint on EWTN and whose resulting miracle is responsible for Newman’s beatification; Cormack Murphy O’Connor, former Archbishop of Westminster, who worked tirelessly behind-the-scenes to make this papal trip possible; Lord David Alton, a member of Parliament, who will discuss the government’s view of the trip and what Catholics can expect; Westminster’s current Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams, and many others!

You’ll also travel to the Birmingham Oratory and the rooms in which Newman lived and worked; Westminster Hall, where St. Thomas More was condemned to death; the Guild Chapel and much more.

EWTN Global Catholic Network, in its 30th year, is available in 160 million television households in 140 countries and territories.  With its direct broadcast satellite television and radio services, AM & FM radio networks, worldwide short-wave radio station, Internet website and publishing arm, EWTN is the largest religious media network in the world.

Source: EWTN

CONTACT:  Michelle Johnson, Director of Communications, EWTN Global
Catholic Network, +1-205-795-5769 - Office, or +1-205-271-2920 - Fax,
[email protected]

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Pope’s New Book on Jesus to be Published by Ignatius Press

July 29, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (MetroCatholic) -  Pope Benedict XVI’s second volume of “Jesus of Nazareth” will be published in English by Ignatius Press, according to an agreement between Ignatius Press and the Vatican’s Publishing House, Libreria Editrice Vaticana (LEV).

Slated for release in Spring 2011, the much-anticipated second volume of “Jesus of Nazareth” takes up where the first volume left off.

“We are eagerly awaiting Volume II because it will contain the Holy Father’s reflections on the central mysteries of our faith: the Passion, Death, and Resurrection,” says Ignatius Press Founder and Editor, Jesuit Father Joseph Fessio. Father Fessio is a former student of Pope Benedict.

The second volume is expected to address such controversial questions as: who was responsible for Jesus’ death? Did Jesus establish the Church to carry on his work? How did he view his suffering and death? How should we? And, most importantly, did Jesus really rise from the dead?

“Jesus remains controversial,” notes Ignatius Press President Mark Brumley. “Christians believe he is the Son of God, the founder of the Church, and the Savior of the world. For non-Christians, Jesus is almost anything else - a myth, a revolutionary, or a prophet whose teaching was misunderstood or distorted by his followers.”

Benedict XVI insists Jesus is the Son of God, yet the Pope acknowledges that opinion is divided. He brings readers face-to-face with the challenge of Jesus. What to make of a real man who taught and acted in ways tantamount to claims of divine authority? Believers and unbelievers alike must come to their own judgment about Jesus and what he means for them. The second volume of “Jesus of Nazareth” will help them to do so.

Ignatius Press is the primary English-language publisher of the works of Pope Benedict XVI/Joseph Ratzinger.

Benedict XVI was elected pope on April 19, 2005, becoming the 264th successor of Peter as the “Vicar of Christ.” Born Joseph Ratzinger, he was for over two decades the head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Pope John Paul II and the President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. A world-renowned theologian, Ratzinger was a theological expert at the Second Vatican Council, and in the years following the council he was one of its prime interpreters. He is probably the most accomplished theologian to be elected pope in modern times. The Italian news agency Zenit reported on July 23 that Benedict XVI has begun work on the third volume of “Jesus of Nazareth,” which it reported will focus on Jesus’ childhood.

Vatican paper publishes article on Pope’s view of Vatican II

June 4, 2010

Vatican City,  (CNA).- The Vatican daily L’Osservatore Roman (LOR) published an article this week on a meeting of the international theological and cultural review “Communio,” which was founded 38 years ago by Hans Urs von Balthasar, Henri de Lubac and Joseph Ratzinger. The text highlights the Holy Father’s perspective on the Second Vatican Council, its importance in the history of the Church in continuity with tradition and the concept of the ecclesiology of “communion” as it relates to “mission.”

Today, notes the article’s author theology professor Erio Castellucci, we have two hermeneutics—keys to its interpretation and application—which resulted from Vatican II. “They were defined by the Holy Father in his 2005 Christmas address to the Roman Curia as those ‘of discontinuity and rupture’ and of ‘reform, renewal and continuity.’”

Castelluci recalls that on the occasion, Pope Benedict “took a position flatly in favor of the second.”

The first hermeneutic, explained the Holy Father at the time, “risks ending in a split between the pre-conciliar Church and the post-conciliar Church. It asserts that the texts of the Council as such do not yet express the true spirit of the Council. It claims that they are the result of compromises in which, to reach unanimity, it was found necessary to keep and reconfirm many old things that are now pointless.”

“In a word,” he said, “it would be necessary not to follow the texts of the Council but its spirit.”

The second hermeneutic, that of reform and continuity, Pope Benedict told the Curia, doesn’t deny that discontinuity could emerge from within the great themes examined by the Council. But, he observed, “(i)t is precisely in this combination of continuity and discontinuity at different levels that the very nature of true reform consists.”

Continuing, the Castellucci article carries out an analysis of some aspects of the ecclesiology of communion that is derived from the Second Vatican Council.

The theology professor observes “that the societal dimension makes up an essential, and not an accessory part of the Second Vatican Council, as the Council wished to outline, a communion founded not only on the horizontal harmony between the components of the Church, but on the trinitarian, christological and sacramental action in the life of the very Church.”

After pointing out that the “Church is not only a society nor simply the Body of Christ,” the article specifies that it is additionally the “fruit of the trinitarian work of creation … The Church is, as Lumen gentium asserts citing St. Cyprian, ‘a people joined to the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.’”

The article from Castelluci goes on to underscore that “it is the sacraments and, in a special way, the Eucharist that renew, nourish and re-establish communion in the Church.” It is not the case that the Church is simply understood as a “being in agreement.” This latter perspective, continues the text, “has reduced the theological wealth of the ecclesiology of communion and favored a Christian praxis which is sometimes very ‘intimist,’ running the risk of darkening the other great dimension of the Conciliar Church: the mission.”

Undoubtedly, Castellucci adds, “Vatican II imposed a missionary ecclesiology, definitively surpassing two great reductions inherited along the course of the last centuries.

“The first reduction,” he explains, “refers to the absorption of the mission in the ‘missions,’ for that (concept) only those who were going to a far-off country were called ‘missionary;’ a second, consisted in the conviction that the missionary quality constituted only an episodic and passing moment that would come to its end once the world was ‘Christianized.’ Vatican II surpasses both reductions, showing evidence of the missionary nature of the Church, founded in the same trinitarian missions.”

The Council, he asserts, “put in evidence how the mission is not simply one of the activities of the Church, but that it belongs to her very nature. If we were to indicate which of the two is effectively the ‘novelty’ of the Council, we would have to choose mission.”

Explaining the importance of the communion and mission, Castellucci concludes by writing that “one without the other would not have any meaning, because communion without mission would remain in the intimism and mission without communion would dissipate in activism. Communion, then, more than the center point of ecclesiology is one of the two foci of the ellipse, because it shares with the mission the quality of sustaining axis of the Church.”


May 11, 2010

VATICAN CITY, 10 MAY 2010 (VIS) - “The definitive text of the second volume of the book ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ by His Holiness Benedict XVI was recently consigned to the publishers entrusted with its publication”, says a note released today by the Holy See Press Office.

“This second volume is dedicated to the Passion and the Resurrection, and starts where the first volume finished”, says the note. “The German original was simultaneously consigned to Manuel Herder - the publisher editing the complete works (’Gesammelte Schriften’) of Joseph Ratzinger - and to Fr. Giuseppe Costa, director of the Vatican Publishing House.

“The latter, as the main publisher, will be responsible for the concession of rights, the publication of the Italian edition, and the delivery of the text to other publishers for translation into the various languages, which will be undertaken directly from the German original.

“The hope is that the publication of the book in the major languages will come about contemporaneously. Yet this, however rapid, will still require various months, given the times necessary for an accurate translation of such an important and long-awaited text”.

Pope Faces a ‘Scourging by Words’, says Former Student and Publisher

March 31, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (MetroCatholic) - As nearly one billion Catholics enter Holy Week, their chief shepherd faces attacks in newspapers, blogs, twitter posts, and television and radio news. Unfortunately, the primary news sources repeatedly fail to report accurate timelines and crucial details. The impression is left that Pope Benedict XVI is part of the problem, rather than leading the way to solving it. Consequently, concerned Catholics and others are agitated and confused.

Pope Benedict’s former student speaks out in support of the Pope and responds to the lack of responsible journalism on this story.

“Benedict the XVI is only infallible as an authoritative teacher of the Faith, not as an administrator. He certainly may have made some mistakes, even serious ones, in the 33 years since he was first made a bishop. But there is no evidence for the ones he’s being blamed for in the media; for those who know the facts, the evidence leads to just the opposite conclusion. Like the Master he serves, he’s also, after 33 years, being publically scourged, this time with words,” Jesuit Father Joseph Fessio says.

Comments from Pope Benedict’s media detractors have been severe. Fr. Fessio admires how, in the midst of this very public suffering, the Holy Father continues to underscore his firm commitment to address the issue of clergy sexual abuse and the underlying problems that gave rise to it. For example, last weekend, the Holy Father released a pastoral letter to Catholics in Ireland regarding the developments there and the Holy See press office has continued to update the media in this area.

Fr. Fessio is founder and editor of Ignatius Press, which is the primary English-language publisher of Pope Benedict XVI’s writings. He is also publisher of Catholic World Report magazine, the leading Catholic news and commentary journal in the U.S. Father Fessio wrote his doctoral dissertation under Pope Benedict (then Professor Joseph Ratzinger). During Ratzinger’s time as Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican, Fr. Fessio maintained contact with his former teacher, collaborating with him on several important projects, and was a prominent defender of Ratzinger against his critics. Fr. Fessio is a member of the Joseph Ratzinger “student circle”, which continues to meet annually with Pope Benedict.

New Papal Encyclical: Fr. Fessio Explains It All For You

July 22, 2009

DUNELLEN, NJ (MetroCatholic) – Pope Benedict XVI’s new encyclical, Caritas in veritate (Charity In Truth) has stirred a great deal of controversy since its release on July 7. Both ends of the American political spectrum, as well as factions within the American Catholic Church, have claimed the Holy Father’s letter for themselves. Some critics on the right have gone so far as to say that the parts they don’t like didn’t really come from the Pope, asserting that Benedict was merely placating left-leaning forces within the curia.

But what does Caritas in veritate really say?

BlogTalkRadio’s “Catholic Radio 2.0” (, hosted by Commander Craig, will attempt to answer this question on Saturday, August 8, 2009, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. The Commander will be joined by Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J. Fr. Fessio wrote his doctoral thesis under the direction of Fr. Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, almost 40 years ago, and has maintained a close working relationship with him since then. His publishing house, Ignatius Press, has released the English-language versions of nearly all of the Holy Father’s writings. Who better, then, to help us unpack Charity In Truth?
The live, Internet talk-radio show will stream from the host page at An archive will be available at the same link immediately following the show; listeners can subscribe to the archives via the RSS feed located on the host page.

About “Catholic Radio 2.0”

“Catholic Radio 2.0” is an interactive, live Internet talk-radio show that focuses on living the Catholic faith in the public square and on liturgical issues. Host Commander Craig addresses these issues with the help of expert guests and a dash of humor. Callers are encouraged to call (347) 324-5467 to listen or ask questions. The stream and archives are available at The show is live every Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. Eastern/ 10 a.m. Pacific. The show is hosted on BlogTalkRadio.

About BlogTalkRadio
BlogTalkRadio is a free, web-based platform which allows any user with a phone and a computer to host a live, interactive Internet broadcast. Hosts call into the service by phone, managing callers on the web-based host dashboard. Shows stream live directly from the host’s BlogTalkRadio web page with archives available for all past shows. BlogTalkRadio has been featured on ABC News, The Washington Post, Portfolio, Talkers Magazine, and The citizen broadcasting network can be found at

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