1. London
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    07 Oct '05 10:042 edits
    Since, as Scribs rightly points out, a discussion on the Inquisition would be out of place in the "Catholicism and the Intrinsically Disordered" thread, I thought it worthwhile to start a new one.

    First, the undeniable facts:

    - The Inquisition(s) did use torture.
    - The Inquisition(s) did hand people over to be killed [by secular authorities]
    - The Inquisition targetted heretics.

    Now, the myths:

    M: The Inquisition was a single movement controlled by the Church in Rome.

    In fact, there were three Inquisitions - the Medieval Inquisition (1184), the Spanish Inquisition (1478-1834) and the Roman Inquisition (1542). Of these, the Spanish Inquisition was not under Church control (1).

    M: The Inquisitions killed hundreds of thousands (possibly millions) of suspected heretics.

    Actual death tolls are hard to estimate for all the Inquisitions put together. A good example of over-estimation is the Spanish Inquisition, where the death-toll estimated was roughly 32,000 till the 1960s, when a review of actual Spanish Inquisition records (which were well-maintained) brought down that figure drastically - to between 2,000 - 5,000 (2).

    M: The scale and use of torture by the Inquisition was unprecedented.

    The Inquisition did not use torture until 1252. Torture was part of the medieval system of justice and not unique to the Inquisition. In fact, the torture applied by the Inquisitions - particularly the Church-run ones - was much milder than those used by secular authorities (3).

    Even with the bloodiest of the Inquisitions - the Spanish Inquisition - only 2% of the accused were tortured, only 1% were tortured twice and there was no evidence of anyone being tortured a third time (4).

    M: The Inquisition invented the punishment of death for heresy.

    In medieval times, where the authority of the State was derived from religion, heresy was (legally) treason. Treason was always punishable by death - and remains so today (5).

    What the Inquisition did do, was to provide an escape route for heretics. Under secular law, a heretic was automatically executed once convicted. Under the Inquisition, however, a heretic could repent and rejoin society. Death was a punishment reserved for the most unrepentant of heretics - the more common punishments were a long pilgrimage for first offenders, wearing a yellow cross for life, confiscation of property, banishment, public recantation, or long-term imprisonment (6). In fact, medieval inquisitors preferred not to hand heretics over for execution if they could be persuaded to repent (7).

    M: The Inquisition denied the accused basic rights such as the right to face his accuser.

    The first Medieval Inquisition (the Episcopal Inquisition) required the name of the accuser to be revealed to the accused. However, this proved to be ineffective as accusers were often assassinated prior to trials (8).

    Hence, the second Medieval Inquisition (the Papal Inquisition) denied this right of the accused. The defendant did have the right to a lawyer (but most lawyers declined to defend heretics as they would lose their licence if the defendant was convicted). Defendants were not always told what crimes they were accused of, and testimony was accepted from anyone - including criminals, other heretics etc. (9)

    However, the defendant still had several rights - such as the right to name those who "mortally hated" him (if the accuser was on the list, the case was dismissed and the accuser was imprisoned instead). Confessions under torture were not admissible in court (10).

    In the later Roman Inquisition, defendants were given more rights. The accused was allowed to name three lawyers to defend him - one of whom would be appointed and paid for by the court (however, lawyers were obliged to discontinue the defense if they were convinced their client was guilty) (11).

    Torture was used only under two circumstances - where the evidence clearly pointed to the guilt of the accused, or where the accused had made a confession but which was not considered full and all accomplices had not been named. Pregnant women, women who recently bore children, children and elderly could not be tortured (12). Further, under Inquisition rules, an accused who did not confess under torture was immediately set free - regardless of whether they had confessed freely before. This was surprisingly effective - nearly 50% of mean and almost all women who were tortured were set free by this clause (13). Further, a confession obtained under torture had to be confirmed by free confession afterwards (14).

    M: The Inquisition was responsible for the Great European Witch Hunt

    Actually, the persecution of "witches" was least at those times and those places where the Church (and the Inquisition) were at their strongest (15).

    (I'm a bit exhausted at the moment - plus I need to get back to work. Comments welcome).

    ---
    (1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inquisition#History
    (2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Inquisition#Death_tolls
    (3) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medieval_Inquisition#Torture
    (4) Finding by Prof. Stephen Haliczer (N. Univ. of Illinois) - reproduced in:
    http://www.cornellreview.org/viewart.cgi?num=109
    This article validates all the factual claims made by Prof. Madden in the CRISIS magazine article that was called "crap" in the other thread.
    (5) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treason
    (6) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medieval_Inquisition#Punishment
    (7) ibid. Bernard Gui, the "villain" of Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose, is pointed out as a particular example.
    (8) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medieval_Inquisition#History
    (9) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medieval_Inquisition#Inquisition_procedure
    (10) ibid.
    (11) http://galileo.rice.edu/lib/student_work/trial96/loftis/procedure.html
    (12) ibid.
    (13) http://www.summerlands.com/crossroads/remembrance/_remembrance/torture.htm
    A very good read (and don't worry - it's a Wiccan source, not a Catholic one).
    (14) ibid.
    (15) http://www.pangaia.com/Issue/pg21/pg21t25-34.html
    Also a Wiccan source (and also an excellent read).
  2. Standard memberknightwest
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    07 Oct '05 10:18
    Where do you want this thread to go? Should be glad that all the horrible things about the inquisitions are myths? Does that make them a good thing?

    What is the debate here?
  3. Joined
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    07 Oct '05 11:131 edit
    All this is very interesting, but slightly undermined by the fact that although there may have been 3 seperate inquisitions, most people refer to the inquisition meaning the Spanish inquisition. Now while the Spanish inquisition was set up in disagreement with the Pope, they still operated under the banner of Catholicism and were headed by a Dominican monk (Torquemada), so Catholicism cannot wash it's hands by saying that the Pope was in disagreement.

    Many of the points you have posted refer more to the idea of the inquisition as a whole and not the the majority view that the Spanish one is the one object of people's attention. Certainly the proceedures of the Spanish Inquisition differed from those of the others.

    Muslim Spain was a centre of great scientific, academic and artistic prowess and development, cities like Cordoba (at one point the largest city in the world with 1 million people) and Seville were populated by Jews, Muslims and Catholics and to everyone's benefit. The first modern standard surgical tools were developed there, Jewish poetry and writing was at the forfront of it's field. Following Ferdinand taking control, Torquemada's actions in expelling and killing Jews destroyed the cultural centre. The Catholics even had the gall to put a Cathedral in the middle of the largest Mosque in Europe (in Cordoba) and have the solid gold doors melted down for their own coffers.

    Despite the Pope making rulings to limit the power of the inquisition, Torquemada proceeded pretty much how he pleased. For example, when the Pope said that there could only be a limited period of torture per day, Torquemada moved the torture sessions to the end of that day so he could put two back to back and double their length.

    I also do not believe that the right to face one's accuser was present during the Spanish period.

    EDIT: Also, the secular torture you speak of was sanctioned by the church, since it could not shed blood itself, it employed others to do it instead. How do you account for this?
  4. Standard memberBosse de Nage
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    07 Oct '05 11:16
    "Why should anyone ever be put in prison or put to death for believing
    heresy? That is not the way of the Gospel, nor the path of reason."

    http://www.ewtn.com/library/HOMELIBR/SPANINQ.TXT
  5. London
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    07 Oct '05 11:58
    Originally posted by Starrman
    All this is very interesting, but slightly undermined by the fact that although there may have been 3 seperate inquisitions, most people refer to the inquisition meaning the Spanish inquisition. Now while the Spanish inquisition was set up in disagreement with the Pope, they still operated under the banner of Catholicism and were headed by a Dominican monk ...[text shortened]... could not shed blood itself, it employed others to do it instead. How do you account for this?
    Now while the Spanish inquisition was set up in disagreement with the Pope, they still operated under the banner of Catholicism and were headed by a Dominican monk (Torquemada), so Catholicism cannot wash it's hands by saying that the Pope was in disagreement.

    No, of course it cannot. But, if Ferdinand had not blackmailed Pope Sixtus IV, the Spanish Inquisition would not have been established at all (1).

    Now, one can argue whether the Pope should've opposed the Spanish Inquisition on principle and been more strong in resisting Ferdinand. In retrospect, I think such a strong refusal would not have been better, as Pope Clement VI's experience with Henry VIII shows (2).

    Further, when we speak of the atrocities of the real Spanish Inquisition (and not the Black Legend), we need to remember that even the infamous Torquemada was not worse in his use of torture than the American police of the 1930s (3).

    For example, when the Pope said that there could only be a limited period of torture per day, Torquemada moved the torture sessions to the end of that day so he could put two back to back and double their length.

    Could you provide a citation?

    I also do not believe that the right to face one's accuser was present during the Spanish period.

    It probably wasn't - that right had already been abrogated by the time of the second Medieval Inquisition (the Papal Inquisition).

    But this right is interesting because modern Western courts uphold it. But do you think this right should be as absolute as it is today? For instance, should rapists have the right to confront their victims/accusers? What about members of organised crime?

    ---
    (1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Inquisition#Origin
    (2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_viii#The_King.27s_Great_Matter
    (3) http://www.ewtn.com/library/HOMELIBR/SPANINQ.TXT
    The estimation is by American historian William T. Walsh in his book 'Characters of the Inquisition'.
  6. Joined
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    07 Oct '05 12:21
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    Further, when we speak of the atrocities of the real Spanish Inquisition (and not the Black Legend), we need to remember that even the infamous Torquemada was not worse in his use of torture than the American police of the 1930s (3).

    I'm not sure this is true, the article you cited neatly skips around whether the methods were those of Torquemada's own people, or the secular torturers that they outsourced to. Iw ill try and find some coutner claims on this.

    Could you provide a citation?

    Trying to locate it now.

    It probably wasn't - that right had already been abrogated by the time of the second Medieval Inquisition (the Papal Inquisition).

    But this right is interesting because modern Western courts uphold it. But do you think this right should be as absolute as it is today? For instance, should rapists have the right to confront their victims/accusers? What about members of organised crime?


    I'm not sure if it's a necessary right at all. I feel justice can be served regardless of it. Perhaps the right to face a representative of your victim/accuser, but directly? I don't know. What clouds this further is the presence of the supernatural, I can't imagine the church being particularly impartial for judiciary processes, in matters of faith. I mean how can you be? Surely it is nigh on impossible to prove what someone believes, one way or another. I can accuse you of convening with Satan, how do you refute that?
  7. London
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    07 Oct '05 13:00
    Originally posted by knightwest
    Where do you want this thread to go? Should be glad that all the horrible things about the inquisitions are myths? Does that make them a good thing?

    What is the debate here?
    Where do you want this thread to go?

    I want to have an open, honest, fact-based discussion of the Inquisition.

    Should [I] be glad that all the horrible things about the inquisitions are myths?

    You tell me.

    Does that make them a good thing?

    As I said in the CAID thread:

    'Good' can be used in two senses - in terms of moral rightness and in terms of societal benefits (e.g. peace, prosperity, freedom etc.)

    In another thread, BdN argued that, on the balance, the French Revolution brought greater benefits (in particular, with respect to social reform) than harm. Given the undisputed acts of violence that followed the French Revolution, would you consider it 'good for humanity'?


    What is your take? Do you consider the French Revolution to be a "good thing"? What sense of 'good' are you using?
  8. London
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    07 Oct '05 13:35
    Originally posted by Starrman
    All this is very interesting, but slightly undermined by the fact that although there may have been 3 seperate inquisitions, most people refer to the inquisition meaning the Spanish inquisition. Now while the Spanish inquisition was set up in disagreement with the Pope, they still operated under the banner of Catholicism and were headed by a Dominican monk ...[text shortened]... could not shed blood itself, it employed others to do it instead. How do you account for this?
    EDIT: Also, the secular torture you speak of was sanctioned by the church, since it could not shed blood itself, it employed others to do it instead. How do you account for this?

    Although the Church tried to limit quite severely the use of torture, it nevertheless sanctioned it. How is this compatible with the message of Jesus and the Gospel? How is this compatible with the duty of the Bishops to love and protect their flock? Torture is clearly a violation of these principles. Violence is incompatible with these principles.

    But how much of it is a modern interpretation of those principles? Take the case of spanking for instance - some Western governments ban spanking today. I have, of course, been spanked as a child - but I've never doubted that my parents loved me. It was an imperfect solution - but they were trying to do the best they could within their cultural and historical backgrounds.

    Some readers will find this analogy morally repulsive - I don't blame them. How can spanking be compared to torture (even if it didn't shed blood or cause death) that could leave a person mentally and physically damaged for life? It can't. But I think it can help us to understand the thinking of the Inquisitors and the Church.

    In medieval thinking, torture was an accepted part of the juridical process. It didn't carry with it the moral and emotional baggage it does today. I don't know what the medical and psychiatric knowledge of the time was - did the Inquisitors think that, as long as they did not kill or mutilate the tortured, he would be able to return to society and lead a productive life? The purpose of torture was to obtain a full confession - not destroy the accused. If the accused confessed and repented, he was forgiven and allowed to rejoin society. In theory, that was the purpose of the Inquisitions - to repatriate heretics to God and society.

    So, while I do not in any way condone or excuse the actions of the Church, I think I can understand it.

    Also, from what I see of Inquisition procedures, defendants could not be handed back to the secular authorities unless their guilt was proven in the Inquisitorial court. So, I do not think that the Church had the secular torturers do their "dirty work" for them. Indeed, there are instances of people who were facing secular trials who deliberately blasphemed to be brought up before the Inquisition instead (1).

    ---
    (1) This is mentioned in the Cornell Review article I cited in the first post.
  9. Standard memberfrogstomp
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    07 Oct '05 15:111 edit
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    [b]EDIT: Also, the secular torture you speak of was sanctioned by the church, since it could not shed blood itself, it employed others to do it instead. How do you account for this?

    Although the Church tried to limit quite severely the use of torture, it nevertheless sanctioned it. How is this compatible with the message of Jesus and the Gospel ...[text shortened]... ).

    ---
    (1) This is mentioned in the Cornell Review article I cited in the first post.[/b]
    You ought to be spanked for comparing spanking with torture.


    edit BTW

    here's another thread about the ignorance of the RCC.

    http://www.geocities.com/buddychai/Religion/Christianity2.html
  10. Standard memberDoctorScribbles
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    07 Oct '05 15:171 edit
    If we had automated signatures at RHP, I would make this mine:

    "In medieval thinking, torture was an accepted part of the juridical process.
    It didn't carry with it the moral and emotional baggage it does today."
  11. Standard memberDoctorScribbles
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    07 Oct '05 15:34
    Is it a fact or a myth that "the Spanish people loved their Inquisition?"
  12. Standard memberNemesio
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    07 Oct '05 15:581 edit
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    In medieval thinking, torture was an accepted part of the juridical process. It didn't carry with it the moral and emotional baggage it does today. I don't know what the medical and psychiatric knowledge of the time was - did the Inquisitors think that, as long as they did not kill or mutilate the tortured, he would be able to return to society and ...[text shortened]... In theory, that was the purpose of the Inquisitions - to repatriate heretics to God and society.
    LH,

    I cannot believe you wrote this. Torture was, is, and always will be a horrible moral wrong.
    Whether or not it was a normative part of society does not make its existence a disgusting
    and despicible thing.

    Using torture to obtain a full confession in a secular issue was, is, and always will be
    an EVIL act.


    To repatriate 'heretics' (i.e., non-believers like Moslems and Jews) by means of coercive measures
    runs contrary to any definition of Faith that I've seen the Church endorse; Faith is predicated on
    complete volition. To use torture as one means of coersion for issues of Faith is, similarly
    nothing less than EVIL.

    Myths and exaggerations aside (and, yes I agree that there have been many of them),
    I do not see how this simpe fact can even be debated: at various times the Church tolerated,
    condoned, endorsed, and participated in the actions of the various Inquisitions and that this is
    a great moral failing in this history of the Church.

    Nemesio
  13. Gangster Land
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    07 Oct '05 16:091 edit
    Ok, LH this is an interesting topic and I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt even though my head is screaming to just write you off as an incorrigible Catholic apologist. I think to have an honest discussion about this we need to establish where one another is coming from. I’m of the opinion that the Catholic Church has over the centuries committed horrible acts in an effort to pad not only their pockets but their power. I think that they have in the past and even recently sought to hide many of the things they have done and/or condoned from modern society to keep from losing their reputation and their money. Having said that, I’m not sure I can think of an organization or country that has been around for even half as long as the Church that does not have at least as bloody a past. America killed the Indians; Australia killed the aborigines and Europe killed everybody. It seems the Catholic Church is no worse than any number of countries or institutions that grew up along side them. The Church may be better though because for all the killing, imprisonment possible torture and money grubbing I think the Church is guilty of (and still is in some cases) it has done a great deal for the advancement of society. If there is one thing you Catholics have over us protestants it is in the area of compassion and outreach to the less fortunate. So, for all the dastardly deeds I really do feel the Catholic Church has committed I think it’s good deeds brings it back to even maybe even further.

    The problem, of course, is that people like you and other Catholics seem to want the Church to have a perfect record from the word go and it is just not the case. All the time you spend defending the inquisition or the crusades or whatever is just drawing attention away from the very good things the church is doing now and has in the past. If people want to think the Catholic Church killed a million people in Spain and tortured a million more…let them. Concentrate now on continuing the very very good things the Church does and make its detractors sound foolish for criticizing what is now a very sound and non-violent institution.

    For every good thing that has come about throughout the course of history I can imagine something even better. The French Revolution for instance eventually turned out good (eventually) but I can imagine the same result with many fewer deaths and much less suffering by all parties. The fact is a good result does not justify what it took to get there; the end does not justify the means in other words. The French Revolution was a very bad thing and all the ‘good’ in the world cannot rewrite history. No matter how much good came from the FR it still remains a very bloody affair with much suffering and anyone of us can imagine a better way for this ‘good’ to have come about. Likewise, I can imagine numerous better ways for the Church to have dealt with a variety of different things throughout its history but that in no way suggests that the Church should run and hide from the truth. People are going to think whatever it is they think about the Church’s past and I say; so what? The only thing you can control, indeed the only thing worth controlling is how people feel about the Church now and attempting to convince people that their opinions about the Church from centuries ago are wrong, just makes you look guilty in the here and now.

    Besides, the Church is going to have plenty of modern publicity wars to fight. It seems they are going to want to discriminate against gays for a while and their priests seem to love little boys a little to much etc. In the coming years it is going to take a lot of time and patience to keep people focused on the great many things the Church does right and attempting to fix whatever misconceptions people may or may not have about the Church of hundreds of years ago is not going to help.

    I guess that is my bit…

    TheSkipper
  14. Standard memberNemesio
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    07 Oct '05 17:04
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    ...But, if Ferdinand had not blackmailed Pope Sixtus IV, the Spanish Inquisition would not have been established at all (1).

    Now, one can argue whether the Pope should've opposed the Spanish Inquisition on principle and been more strong in resisting Ferdinand. In retrospect, I think such a strong refusal would not have been better, as Pope Clement VI's experience with Henry VIII shows (2).
    While I was taking a shower I thought about these three sentences, and I think this the the
    crux of your problem, LH.

    I am going to use an exaggerated example for illustrative purposes. If a woman has an
    ectopic, enencephalic where the mother's life is forfeit should she pursue the pregnancy and
    the child will not survive post-partum and will have no brain function, the Church teaches
    that the woman should not have an abortion. It teaches that the moral evil of abortion
    is greater than the benefits of preserving the woman's life for a baby that will not survive.
    I assume that you do not debate this point, since it is well established by both official Church
    documents and non-authoritative reports from cardinals, bishops, priests and laity.

    Why is this example relevant? Because the Church teaches (in this and many other cases) that
    committing a moral wrong for the sake of some other good is impermissible.

    If Sixtus had been a man of faith, then he would have gone to the block before giving in to
    blackmail by Ferdinand. That the English Church defected from the Roman Church, although
    sad from a RC perspective, is not justification for the institution of torture. Indeed, it would
    be the morally just thing to do to let Spain (and everyone) defect voluntarily than it would
    be to compel them to remain in the Church through coercison, violence, and threat of death.
    That would a be Church predicated on an evil, if even for a 'good' purpose.

    When you state that you 'think a strong refusal would not have been better,' you mean 'better'
    from a political point of view. The Church would have lost members, the Church would have
    lost social prestigue, the Church would have lost power in the world. When Henry
    demonstrated that he was unconcerned with being excommunicated and the life went on, it
    put great fear in the eyes of the Church.

    And, yes, the Church retained some of her power by endorsing and participating in the various
    Inquisitions of the past. But she did so with the stain of sin upon herself -- trying to maintain
    a good through a moral evil.

    This paraphrase should have meaning to who are all Biblically fluent:

    For what does it profit the Church to have many members if the means by which she obtained
    those members was by moral evil? Better for the Church to leave go her wayward members
    than to poison herself by commiting maleficent acts.

    Nemesio
  15. Standard memberNemesio
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    07 Oct '05 17:14
    Originally posted by TheSkipper
    I’m of the opinion that the Catholic Church has over the centuries committed horrible acts in an effort to pad not only their pockets but their power. I think that they have in the past and even recently sought to hide many of the things they have done and/or condoned from modern society to keep from losing their reputation and their money.

    The Church may be better though because for all the killing, imprisonment possible torture and money grubbing I think the Church is guilty of (and still is in some cases) it has done a great deal for the advancement of society. If there is one thing you Catholics have over us protestants it is in the area of compassion and outreach to the less fortunate. So, for all the dastardly deeds I really do feel the Catholic Church has committed I think it’s good deeds brings it back to even maybe even further.

    Skip, LH, anyone: when you do something wrong, even if it is meant for the 'right' reasons, don't
    you say, 'Gee whiz. I'm sorry. I was trying to good but I screwed it up because I had the wrong
    perspective.' Don't you fully acknowledge your evil, repent of it, and strive to avoid it?

    I try to. I don't think any one of us here does things intending to create evil; I think we just
    screw up. And I think that all of us reflect on the things we do and say 'sorry.'

    The Church for lots of wrong reasons -- power, social influence, money -- and maybe a right one
    or two -- the salvation of souls -- endorsed and committed lots of evil acts within the context of
    the Inquisition.

    I don't see how LH or Ivanhoe (who has been eerily silent?) can deny this fact. The Church, made
    up of human beings who are fallible just like you and I are, screwed up big time, motivated
    by the same things which corrupt the goodness of our actions: lack of perspective and selfishness.

    This isn't a scored game: you did one evil act and two good acts, therefore, you win! That the
    Church did a lot of good in the past and today doesn't make its evils permissible, just like it doesn't
    make it ok for me to commit an evil act after I give $100 bucks to charity.

    The Church, like we, should be striving to optimize its good acts while minimizing its evil ones.
    And, like we, is should acknowledge the indisputable evil it has committed, repent of it and strive
    to avoid it in the future.

    Nemesio
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