After my death our beloved Church abroad will break three ways ... first the Greeks will leave us as they were never a part of us ... then those who live for this world and its glory will go to Moscow ... what will remain will be those souls faithful to Christ and His Church. ~St. Philaret of NY


Church and Society

Metropolitan Agafangel's article "Church and Society", published in the magazine No.14  "Tribune Russian thought" 

This article by the Metropolitan is MOST instructive, as it clearly spells out what SHOULD be the Orthodox Church's stance towards any and all earthly governments, from Old Testament roots to the present. This is very sound solid Orthodox teaching.  He tells us, thusly, why our church cannot be a tool nor subservient to the evil regime currently ruling Russia, nor be tools neither of any other earthly governments, anywhere!.

Note: google machine translation has greatly improved, so that MOST can be understood, by most English speakers. One warning, the machine cannot seem to differentiate between English articles, when translating from the Russian, so that: 'and' ....can be substituted for, 'to' , or 'with' or 'also' or....other WRONG interpretations from the original Russian. Also the machine translates the word for ...parish...(prihod) in Russian, to it's literal meaning, 'coming', and etc....which can be most confusing and often changes entirely the essential meaning of a sentence.
That is a danger of being too trusting of google machine translations, as they can give the wrong meaning.
Also, another dumb thing that google does, is to: literally translate the last names of people, rather than just keep them as is.  Thus, as an example, a  Fr. Peter Zelony, becomes, Priest Peter GREEN (!)...most confusing.  



Metropolitan Agafangel

Church and Society

Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and God what is God's
(Luke 20:25).

If you abide in My word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
and ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free
(John 8.31-32).

The question of coexistence of the Church and civil society is relevant at all times.  Despite the fact that members of the Church are both citizens of a state, in thinking of the Church and Society Church - The Church and the world, always contrasted.  It is known that the opposition did not come out now, and it took place in Old Testament times.

The Scripture says a lot about the Church (the Old Testament - God's people) and that now we call politics.  For example, we know that one of the historical periods of God's people, led by a judge, delivered the people of the Lord Himself, Who by the people of the judges (Judges 2.16-18).  However, the stand supplied by God judges the people of Israel refused.  "And all the elders of Israel, and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now therefore make us a king to judge us like all the nations" (1 Samuel 08.04 -5).  "It is not the thing displeased Samuel when they said, Give us a king to judge us.  And Samuel prayed to the Lord.  And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for it is not you they have rejected, but rejected me, that I should not reign over them (1 Samuel 8.6-7).  But the power of an earthly king blessed by God through the anointing - in contrast to the present times when people, unfortunately, rejected God and did not wish his power in any the form.

Thus, from the Scriptures, and, of course, not only from the above passage, we see that the people (in the XI century BC) wanted to be their ruler is not God, and the world's leader.  Even after the prophet described the harassment, which will be delivered on human rights, "the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel, and said: No, let the king will be upon us, and we like all the nations will judge us our king, and walk before us and fight our battles" (1 Samuel 8.19-20).  This renunciation of the power of God in favor of civil authority in the history repeats itself continually until the present day.  And when faith was more in the people, he thought much of his earthly power and sole authority felt the power of God.  But when faith is weakened, then the question of earthly power has always been forward.  So it was in Old Testament times, as happens now.

At the time of the captivity of the people of Israel, the latter was always trying to find their feet, or running away (outcome), or an uprising against the enslaved and oppressed his civil authority.  In this regard, Christians showed to innovation - as our Lord Jesus Christ never called for violence and power of resistance against the Jews enslaved the Roman authorities, and urged his followers to obey these authorities, unless, of course, the authorities did not require certain ungodly actions.

"Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers, for there is no authority except from God, existing as the authorities are ordained of God.  Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God.  And the adversaries themselves incur condemnation.  For rulers are not a terror to good works but to evil.  Do you want to not be afraid of the authorities?  Do good, and you will have praise from it, because [the chief] is the minister of God to thee for good.  If you do evil, be afraid, for he was not in vain bear the sword he is God's servant in wrath doeth evil.  Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only from [fear] punishment, but also for conscience sake.  For this you pay taxes and because they are God's ministers, this very thing.  So to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; who rents, rents; whom fear, fear, honor to whom honor.  Owe no one anything except to love one another for loving fulfilled the law" (Rom 13.1-8).

Thus, the Apostle, contrary to the expectations of other Jews (some would say - of the Jewish people), waiting and waiting for this day, the prince who will win the Jews all the other people - faithful obedience to the commands Christians to existing pagan authorities. Of course, from the above passage, the Apostle Paul shows that it is a contemporary authority, which did not require this kind of obedience itself, which was a betrayal of God.

To increase and strengthen the Church of Christ, which stepped the national and state boundaries, a convert to preach Christ to all people, needed a solution solely domestic issues, and for that there was no need to change the government or seek the assistance of the ruling elite.  Church - a faith in the Resurrection of Christ, which does not require the publication of state laws.  The Church, being the kingdom not of this world, suddenly began to speak many languages, spread "from person to person," among other peoples and states, as if among them there were no boundaries, and ignoring existing local civil government.  Christianity, converting the world to create a new spiritual man recognizes all forms of government, refusing only to perform ungodly laws.  It considers each existing order as set by God, the natural conditions of the order in which the Church predlezhit resolve their "supranational" the problem of universal salvation.

This approach is supported and the Russian Church Abroad in exile: "The Church can not and should not have any universally valid political setup.  For it lasted only one guiding principle of conduct and irrevocable political: to stay true to itself, respectively, by changing their political setting, depending on on what, where and when the power she sees before him." 1

At the same time, according to the Scriptures, if a legitimate civil government shied away from God's Commandments, the prophets denounced it - that was not calling for elimination of the existing government, but this was manifested their service to society.  Without giving ample evidence of the Old Testament, we show similar episodes occurring in the New Testament.  For example, the greatest of the prophets - John the Baptist was imprisoned and beheaded for having denounced Herod the king for illicit cohabitation - that is, in modern terms and in accordance with modern concepts, he intervenes in family affairs of the legitimate ruler.  Himself, our Lord Jesus Christ, disrespectful attitude to Herod the king, and if you talk to the generally accepted now categories, threatening to undermine his authority exposures popular governors.  When the Pharisees said to Christ, that he has disappeared, for Herod wants to kill him, the Savior said to them: "Go tell that fox, Behold, I cast out demons and healing I make today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish" (Luke 13.31-32).  And sitting on the throne of Moses, the scribes and Pharisees, Christ was not only popularly called hypocrites and blind guides, and brood of vipers, because they left the court, mercy, and faith  2.  The Lord called Himself and the King (whose kingdom not of this world) (John 18.33-37), and Judge (John 5:30; 8.16).

Also, during the reign of the Orthodox Church is not the Emperors once raised her voice against the tyranny and wickedness of earthly rulers.  We remember the example of St. John Chrysostom, denounces wicked Queen Eudoxios.  There are also examples of St. Ambrose, sternly denounced the emperor Theodosius, St. Basil the Great, who fought with the Emperor for the authority of the Church authorities, the Metropolitan of Moscow Philip, who spoke with the accusations against Ivan the Terrible.  Are these examples can be called the introduction of politics into the Church?  When power operates shamelessly declares war on God, atheism implants, corruption, defies divine and human laws, - the Church can not and must not be silent.  A must expose.  It is her duty. 3

Thus, we see from Scripture that a true people of God, represented by its best representatives, and the Church of Christ in all cases, the relationship with civil authorities, above all, defended the faith in true God, and the possibility of free service to Him, and the open denouncing the rulers transgressed against God's commandments.  In contrast to the Old Testament times, the Church of Christ is not called, and took no action to overthrow the civilian rulers, but rather called for obedience to such rulers that do not interfere with the free life of Christians.  This demonstrates the evolutionary principle of the impact of the Orthodox Church in society, in contrast to the revolutionary inherent in our day only enemies of the Church and the enemies of God, as well as all sorts of political adventurers.

Terms of the free life of the Church in society

In my opinion, it is possible to build on the three principles that govern the freedom of the Church in society - 1) no effect on its internal affairs by outside forces, 2) with impunity ignore the Church decrees ungodly power and 3) the freedom of service to the Church Society.  In other words - the Church can fully live in a society in which the state can not encroach on her inner life, where there is no enforcement of laws and ungodly are no obstacles for Preaching and social service of the Church.

In Old Testament times the Lord Himself visibly protected the people from the distortion of faith in the True God - while there is no question of doubt and controversy regarding the knowledge of God.  However, representatives of the Jewish people are often offended and deviated to the worship of "the gods of other nations."

The question of faith openly and widely began to rise during the Ecumenical Councils, after Emperor Constantine declared Christianity the state religion.  This was the moment the question of relations of Church and State, apparently largely under the influence of Hellenic aspirations base object of his faith, became a truly important.  And from that time began a process of active government influence on the internal life of the Church.  I must admit that the Church as it could defend itself from this influence.  For example, since its formation in the Church to ordain in all the church itself will be done by the Church, which was later adopted by the recorded church legislation. Church rules in such cases, strictly protect the Church from outside influences - "Once a bishop, having used worldly commanders, after they receive the bishop's authority in the church, let him be deposed and excommunicated, and all communicating with him" (30th Apostolic Canon).  Also, there are many other similar rules that protect the Church from outside influences.

Modern power, not only in the former Soviet Union, but practically everywhere, to some extent can (and should) be seen as a pagan power (despite the fact that the government itself calls himself a "secular" - for Christians there is no difference in the title power "secular" or "pagan", the issue is not the name, but that power is not alien to the Orthodox and the Church).  Therefore, we may well apply to her those instructions which the apostles gave to his congregation in relation to their modern Roman authorities.  In this sense (as in many other ways) now we are in a distant analog of the apostolic times.  As I have already written above, from the Church, above all, requires guarding of sacred tradition, rather than instant response to queries today.  On the contrary, due to escort the Holy Tradition, we need freedom from the daily changing needs of time.  You can not divide the church to "internal" and "external" and define it for each service - because, in the words of Christ: "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other or one will hold, but on the other slack . can not serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24).  After all, every single person there and the image of the whole Church - is absurd to demand from a man split his personality.  The Church can not take upon itself the role of a newspaper reporter and respond to each incident in the community event.  Beginning with the Old Testament and ending today, we see that the church (God's people) lived and lives among the different nationalities, religions, beliefs and political systems, while remaining within a constant.  Here is the immutability of religion: Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, and is the main thing that the Church must maintain at all times, no matter what the external conditions.  Therefore, it should carefully protect themselves from the effects of ongoing events around her.

The Old Testament the Jewish people were adamant to those who persecuted him. In the Old Testament we often find direct opposition to those or other authorities that oppress the people - as an example we can recall the conquest and victory, are listed in the Book of Psalms (Psalms 135 and 136).  There are in Scripture many other examples.

In the New Testament we see, on the one hand, the voluntary acceptance of decisions of the Roman authorities by Christ and the perfect renunciation of what we call the political struggle, his disciples.  And along with it, a perfect failure (for example, three young men who refused to VI. BC.  Obey the commandment of king Nebuchadnezzar) to fulfill the requirements of ungodly power.  In heathen countries in the past necessarily required to make sacrifices to idols and appropriate for their refusal to bring many Christians shared in the same lost their lives, as we all know.  In the Soviet state of Christians required to testify under threat of reprisals loyalty to the idol of the communist regime (the ideology) who refuse to do this enlisted in the ranks of the anti-Soviet, with all its consequences.  We may confidently assert that the ranks of the clergy of the Church officially permitted in communist times, there was no open "anti-Soviet" and could not be there, we can say is, by definition.  In the Soviet Union could not exist, no organization that would be beyond the control of "authorities" and would have a purpose contrary to the construction of communism.  If it were not so, then the Church would not share in the catacomb and the Soviet one.  Catacomb Church, as Overseas, refused to testify their loyalty to communist ideals (which were, in fact, the Soviet idols), for which both the godless authorities have been enrolled in the category of anti-Soviet counter-revolutionary organizations.  The True Church of Christ, it was impossible to be loyal to the communist ideology, as it openly godless, atheistic doctrine that denies the very existence of God and openly aiming to destroy religion. Thus, the Church of Christ could not live freely in the Soviet Union and, especially, the support of the atheist state.  The Moscow Patriarchate, testifying their loyalty to the Soviet government, according to the Declaration of Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky) "not for fear but for conscience", giving the gods Caesar deliberately entered the submission of this authority and dutifully fulfilled all its requirements.  Up to the bringing of Soviet statues of the victim (honors) in the form of wreaths and flowers, there is clear evidence that separation from the Church. Church canons (laws) of these cases, expressed clearly and definitely.  For example, the Local Rules of the Council of Ancyra say that the clergy, under duress falsely brought sacrifice to idols, but then turned to sincere confession of Christ, may continue to wear the priestly garments, but they are forever forbidden to preach and to perform any religious rite (right one).  The laity also, for sacrifice to the idols, depending on the circumstances, the rules of this Council excommunicated from 3 to 10 years.  But all this was possible only with the full and sincere repentance of the fallen Christian.  For any member of the Church is totally unacceptable response to ungodly demands, and under the provisions of the Ecumenical Councils and Church rules - even in the simplest of everyday situations.  Therefore, the true Church of Christ, even with indignation, rejected the request of Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky) attest to their loyalty to the God-fighting authorities.  By itself, fulfillment of that requirement would be the same as the offering of sacrifice to the idols on the one hand, and on the other - opened up the possibility of access to the active intervention of atheists in the internal life.

The ministry of the church community as a whole is, above all, spreading the Gospel and evangelism to be attached to the Church of the new members, promotion of adoption of Christian principles in society the relationship between people and the prayers of the Church of the polity and feasible social service.  State government can be divided into 
a) Orthodox, 
b) do not interfere in the internal affairs of the Church, and 
c) anti-God.  
Depending on the nature of government, the Church's prayer for those in power and its social service to the community may be different.

Of course, in our time the Church must, in accordance with its Holy Tradition, denouncing the vices of society and their corresponding public policies - such as a broad propaganda of immorality (just as John the Baptist rebuked Herod's illicit cohabitation), the cult street democracy (bearing in mind that that the Lord was crucified "democratic" way), permissiveness, under the guise of "human rights" (leading to the abolition of the Law of God).  But while calling for correction of defects, not to overthrow the current rulers.

The church must become the conscience of society, and if it is not, then all of its appeals and declarations will only be retroactive.

Serving the Orthodox Church in the state.

The Church in Russia, "was connected with the state represented by the King-Emperor: he united the state and the Church.  The state has lived a life that is separate from the Church.  The church lived its own life, separate from the state.  Merged these two elements together - in the person of Samuel I, which leading the state belonged to the Church". 4  Of course, all of the available forms of government, only the Orthodox monarchy as the most contributes to the spiritual health of the nation and the salvation of souls of his subjects.

Russian Orthodox church, unfortunately, easily gave up the monarchy in favor of democracy and its independent, without care orthodox state of existence.  But when she was faced with the God-fighting regime seized power in Russia in 1917, it is quite conscious of the destructiveness of this reckless act.  Many representatives of the Russian Church then supported the monarchy and directly involved in the political struggle, calling for struggle against the Bolsheviks.  There have been acts of appeals and the anathema of Patriarch Tikhon (confirmed by the Local Council) to the natural resistance of the faithful to protect the shrine.  However, calls for the violent overthrow of the Bolsheviks were not vsetserkovnogo character.  Public calls to overthrow the Church Abroad, the Soviet government met resistance from the Church authorities in Russia and, ultimately, the ROCOR obeyed her voice (though only after izsyakla hope for an armed overthrow of the godless regime).

In the midst of the struggle for power in Russia there were also cases of authoritative influence of the priests at the election of delegates to the state political bodies.  For example, an episode described by H. Thalberg: "Zaveduya in the Office of the Minister of Internal Affairs office work for the elections to the Duma and the Council of State, considering pre-election plan to the fifth State.  Duma (the fourth term of office expired in the summer of 1917), it is I was calm for the Volyn province, where the outcome of the elections in large measure, as before, independent of Archimandrite Vitaly.  He believed, and the clergy, the nobility, and townspeople, especially the peasantry". 5

Church and State, which does not interfere in its internal affairs.

Found themselves outside the fatherland Russian Church Abroad always treated with gratitude to the authorities of those States which have sheltered her.  In the ROCOR has always been made to pray to the Great Litany, and the entrance of the country where Russian refugees had to live and about the rulers of this country as follows: "About this, and the host of vlasteh her, pray to the Lord," in contrast to the Soviet authorities in pursuit of the Church at home: "That He may deliver His people from the bitter torment bezbozhnyya power."

Russian Orthodox people, get a job and housing in their country of exile, tried to feasibly participate in public life - served in the Army and worked in public office, and just from the heart, were grateful to those who extended a helping hand in difficult times of life.

"Obviously, ... Christian patriotism ... requires each of us manageable service to the fatherland.  This ministry is carried out by man, especially when it is on this or that government or public service.  Of course, the value of such service has increased if it is committed bezkorystno - regardless of any material considerations and concerns.  But the man somehow serves the State and when he, for example, is involved in his life, working and speaking in the press or in public elections and etc.  And this is where he should seek to benefit from it throughout their country, all the people, not only to comply with their personal (or party) interests.  And then his conscience is at peace.  Let it not reach the large external success - but honestly, as a Christian duty to perform a patriot and a loyal son of his country" 6 - these words of St. Philaret also apply to the new homeland razseyannyh worldwide Russian people.

If today's post-Soviet states are also tolerant of the Church Abroad, who returned to his homeland, its representatives, of course, responded to rewarding work for the benefit of their country.

Church of the atheist state.

Of course, neither of which the state ministry of the Church atheist can be no question, as it can not service the power of Antichrist.  In the case of the arrival of the atheist government, the Church in all ages of its existence, fleeing (An 12.6), or hid in the "crevices of the earth" (An 12.16).  However, under conditions of open persecution of some members of the Church thought it possible to pray even for the atheist government. For example, in exile Martyr Metropolitan Kirill (Smirnov) wrote in 1929: "The commemoration of the authorities that be clergy who were in exile Zyriansky be carried out in 1923 as follows: ... "of all ilk are in power and the hedgehog vozglagolati in their hearts the good and peace of the Church of Holy, pray to the Lord" ... According to this formula, I am making commemoration prederzhschih authorities, and to this day it is consistent with pomyanniku, placed in the Psalms and the Book of Hours Learning and reflects a sincere attitude toward the Church of God and to Caesar". 7

In commemoration of the Russian liturgical tradition of the authorities in one form or another is required.  But, as we see how you can pray for the welfare authorities, who favored or at least not to pursue the church, or pray for the enlightenment of the authorities, the Church is oppressed, as well as to pray for deliverance from the authorities, the Church is pursuing.  Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and at once uniquely determined in their attitude toward the Soviet regime and always prayed for deliverance of their country from its "bitter torment."

"The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad can not, under any circumstances, recognize the power in Russia, which denies the freedom of the Church and the regime carries out violence against Russia.  Recognition of the Soviet Union - Russia, from the Church, it would be glaring violation of the prohibition established by the Council. Patriarchal Church.   In this sense, Soviet hard pregreshaet against the Moscow Cathedral. ... The Church Abroad can not until all of Russia under the Soviet yoke, no power, claim to supremacy over vozstanovlennoy Russia, to recognize that the Russian authorities, the denial of which would razsmatrivatsya as disobedience of the Church". 8
"We can not be attributed to the Soviet doctrine of St.. Apostle Paul's authority (Rom 13.1-4).  ...  Of Soviet power, we as a temporary razsmatrivaem's permission of God, as a natural evil to discipline the people who sinned before God.  Therefore, Christians are bound to obey only lawful authority to execute and obey only those laws and regulations of which agree with the divine will, and do not destroy God's law.  Otherwise, they should be following the example of St. Apostles to obey God more than men (Acts 4.19), and the example of Saviour Christ, to be obedient to God the Father even unto death, and death on the cross (Phil. 2.8).  We dare to do so and ... and continually offer to God the Almighty fervent prayers for deliverance from it us, our country and the Church as we pray to the Lord God of ridding us of the smooth, pestilence, fire, gubitelstva, the invasion of foreigners.  We are deeply convinced and confident that this point of view - a purely Christian. Otherwise, think - does this mean that all Christians must recognize that in the future and brutal rule, which says St. John Taynovidets in the XIII chapter of the Apocalypse.  And yet, by the Divine teachings, that the authorities recognize only those whose names are not written in the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (An 13.8)." 9

Thus, we see that the church clearly defining the godless government as evil, while at the same time find it possible to pray for her correction (Metropolitan Kirill), and the deliverance of the Church and the people from the oppressive power of the godless.

Church and State

Thus, we can conclude that the Orthodox Catholic Church in principle not limited to the boundaries of any state and independent living, independent lives.  The church where God's elect and the people of God gathered around these representatives.  Of course, where the state encourages the church, there are more people of the Church.  But the number of elected representatives does not depend on the state, but depends only on God: "Do not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you" (Jn 15.16). God Himself erects His Apostles and sent them to the service.

The Orthodox Church is the state of its main ideological component, whereas in the States it is only part of the democratic, along with others, often the opposite of Christianity, ideological doctrines.  In the historical process of its formation, the Church of Christ has had a tremendous impact on society, one might even say - the whole course of world history.  However, especially in these days, the principles of developing the so-called "democracies" more and more in conflict with the Law of God - gay marriage, legalization of corruption in its various forms and the destruction of the family, legitimizing murder and vices, the equation between a variety of religions and even superstition, which merged into a single process of globalization of the world community - all of it suppresses the spiritual principle in man, and brings meaning to his life to consume surrogate, both physiologically and spiritually.  The Church can not stop the development of these processes, as well as it can not go in their bed than dooms itself to the progressive "marginalized" in the eyes of the spiritually degrading modern society.

Life of the Church and society evolve separately from each other in accordance with its domestic laws, mutually assisting each other influence.  In this church, being self-sufficient organism, having its head of our Lord Jesus Christ, directly from the society and the state obviously can not get a positive experience (except for periods when the government itself is part of the Church), while the influence of the Church in State has an exceptionally good value, as the influence of Christ. Church of Christ stands outside of time and, therefore, responds to requests of this world not by compulsion, but solely on the weakness of her children living at the time. Therefore, the Orthodox Church should seek, wherever possible, be a spiritual leader in the field of its location - showing the public a sample of the moral and spiritual life, civic responsibility and social service.

     Summarizing this article, we can conclude that the Church in all periods of his life to enter into relations with various authorities on the basis of their internal motivations world preaching Christ crucified and risen, according to His command, "Go and teach all nations" (Mt 28.19), but Any communication with its external forces can only be subject to the precondition: preserving the freedom granted her by Christ.

It always has been, it must be so in the future.


[1] Russian Orthodox Church and politics. "Holy Russia", 1950, № 16, p.1-2.
[2] Archbishop Innocent. On the Soviet authorities. "Church Gazette", № 17 and 18, 1924, p.6.
[3] Letter of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of His Holiness Cyrus Gregory VII, the Archbishop of Constantinople - New Rome, Ecumenical Patriarch. "Church Gazette", № 15 and 16, 1924,. 7.
[4] The Russian Church Abroad, and politics. "Holy Russia", 1950, № 16, p.1-2.
[5] H. Thalberg. By the fifth anniversary of the death of Archbishop Vitaly. "Holy Russia", 1965, № 6, p.4-5.
[6] Met. Filaret. Summaries of moral theology. 23. Family and state.
[7] Acts of the Holy Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. Compiled by ME Gubonin. Orthodox St. Tikhon's Theological Institute, the Brotherhood in the name of the Merciful Saviour, Moscow, 1994. 640-641.
[8] The Russian Church Abroad, and politics. "Holy Russia", 1950, № 16, p.1-2.
[9] Letter of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of His Holiness Cyrus Gregory VII, the Archbishop of Constantinople - New Rome, Ecumenical Patriarch. "Church Gazette", № 15 and 16, 1924,. 7.

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