US Bishops Drafting Teaching Document on Eucharist – But What’s the Point?

US Bishops Drafting Teaching Document on Eucharist – But What’s the Point?

STOP PRESS:    Catholic News Agency reports that today, 18 June, The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voted to move forward on several action items, including a draft of a teaching document on the Eucharist. below, details of their debate… 

From National Catholic Register…

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, head of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee, said “this is a particularly important moment that we speak” on the Eucharist. He also called Catholic politicians to “integrity” in rebuking “those in public life who then flaunt their Catholicity, love to describe themselves as devout Catholics” and back abortion.

WASHINGTON — The second day of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) spring general assembly featured a lengthy and passionate debate over the proposal to draft a document on the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist.

The document, which would include a discussion of worthiness to receive Communion, remains a hot-button issue given the many Catholic public officials who go against Church teachings on the issue of abortion and yet continue to receive Communion.

Those involved in the document’s drafting insisted that it was not aimed at particular individuals and was not meant to institute a national policy, but U.S. President Joe Biden’s name came up several times in the discussion due to his administration’s aggressive pro-abortion stance despite his avowed Catholicism.

What appeared to be a vocal minority of the bishops pushed for delay on drafting any document and asked for more dialogue on the matter given its contentious nature. Most of the bishops seemed to be supportive of drafting the document and spoke to the need to do so in light of widespread ignorance among the faithful regarding the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist, as well as the scandal to the faithful caused by Biden. The results of the vote on the draft proposal will be released Friday.

The debate came following an effort by some bishops Wednesday to delay the motion to draft the document until every bishop had a chance to speak on the matter, a move others called a “filibuster” because it would make a vote on drafting the document impossible. The issue has been hotly contested in the months leading up to the assembly, with Cardinal Luis Ladaria, the prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, cautioning USCCB president Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles in May about crafting “a national policy” on the matter, “given its possibly contentious nature,” and suggesting the debate “would best be framed within the broad context of worthiness for the reception of Holy Communion on the part of all the faithful, rather than only one category of Catholics, reflecting their obligation to conform their lives to the entire Gospel of Jesus Christ as they prepare to receive the sacrament.”

The Document’s Scope

Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Doctrine that wrote the outline of the document and would be tasked with drafting it, explained in prepared remarks over the meeting’s Zoom format Thursday that the proposal has been “the subject of misunderstanding and even mischaracterization” among the bishops.

Indirectly rebutting the claims that it’s directed specifically toward Biden’s strong promotion of legal abortion, he said the document originated out of concern among the bishops over the “proven decline in belief in the Real Presence among our Catholic faithful,” citing a 2019 Pew poll that just a third of U.S. Catholics believe in the Real Presence.

The document would discuss the Eucharist as “a mystery to be believed” a “mystery to be celebrated” and a “mystery to be lived.” That third portion of the document would touch on the worthiness to receive Communion as, Bishop Rhoades said, “one cannot discuss the centrality of the Eucharist as the source and summit of the Christian life without addressing those actions that inflict damage to the honor due the sacrament or cause scandal to the faithful.”

He added that the statement would not set forth national norms but rather lay out existing teaching on the matter and “was never considered by the committee on doctrine to be a statement about any one individual or about any one category of sinful behavior, rather it would bring heightened awareness among the faithful of the need to be to conformed to the Eucharist and to bear public witness to the faith through a call to conversion.” The fact that establishing national norms is significant to the debate regarding whether and how to proceed, as Cardinal Ladaria’s cautionary letter to Archbishop Gomez appeared to be predicated on the belief that this was what the U.S. bishops were intending.

Bishop Rhoades received pushback almost immediately. Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, who signed a letter to Archbishop Gomez asking that the debate over worthiness to receive Communion be delayed until the bishops’ next in-person meeting, voiced concerns that the document would be interpreted as aimed at certain politicians like Biden, and that he didn’t know “how we get around that if we pass on this document.”

“Reproductive rights are a constitutional right. And, in fact, every woman should have that right.”

Cardinal Cupich called for a removal of the section on worthiness to receive Communion and said those who pushed for the draft wanted the bishops “to do something about politicians who hold positions that are contrary to our teaching and let’s not fall into that trap.”

Intended for All Catholics

Bishop Rhoades responded that document was intended for all Catholics, not just politicians, and would be a teaching document focused on “the reasons behind the Church’s discipline.” He said that the document wasn’t “targeting particular individuals” or limited to the issue of abortion. He called for acceptance of “the Church’s discipline that those who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion,” but added that individual bishops decide how to apply that so the bishops wouldn’t be doing that in the document.

Archbishop Alexander Sample of Portland, Oregon, made the case that “there’s nothing in Cardinal Ladaria’s letter that is inconsistent with the work that Bishop Rhoades and his committee is proposing,” since the proposal was not about a national policy, but a teaching document. He also referenced Cardinal Ladaria’s call for dialogue with Catholic politicians on the issue saying “that happens a lot. I know I speak with many bishops and it’s been reported in the media how many bishops have had dialogues with our Catholic political leaders on this.”

While Cardinal Cupich has now twice raised concerns in this week’s meeting that there must be time for dialogue with these politicians, he told CNA in 2019 that he had ongoing “conversations” with Catholic leaders in the Illinois state Legislature who championed an abortion coverage mandate. He said he believed it would be “counterproductive” to deny Holy Communion in his archdiocese to the legislators who championed the law.

Bishop Joseph Tyson of Yakima, Washington, asked Bishop Rhoades to what extent the document was “about making a point on abortion to the exclusion of other important issues?” He replied that “you can look at a variety of issues” when considering worthiness to receive Communion and raised the example of the scandal of a white supremacist leader or individual involved in human trafficking attempting to receive Communion. Bishop Rhoades added that at this point he doesn’t “know in the document if we’re going to get into specific issues” but was open to hear from various bishops on the matter.

Additional Objections

Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego backed the call to remove the portion of the document addressing Eucharistic consistency and argued that the proposal is part of the “groundwork for a fundamental shift in how bishops should present our faith in public discussion,” which “would make the denial of the Eucharist a significant element of our teaching office in contemporary society.”

He worried that the bishops were headed down that road and the consequences of that were that the Eucharist would be “weaponized” in partisan battles and being barred from reception of Communion would only apply to politicians opposed to the Church’s stance on abortion and euthanasia, which the Church teaches are intrinsically evil, rather than issues like racism and environment. Bishop Rhoades countered with a reminder that the Committee on Doctrine was not planning on limiting it to those two issues.

Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington, D.C., who oversees the archdiocese where President Biden resides, notably sided with the bishops urging more dialogue and raising concerns about the divisiveness of the subject.

He said, “the choice before us at this moment is either we pursue a path of strengthening unity among ourselves, or settle for creating a document that may not bring unity, but may well further damage it.”

A couple of bishops raised other objections to the document, worrying that it would not be an effective teaching document.

Archbishop Michael Jackels of Dubuque, Iowa said he opposed drafting the document because he believed there are “adequate instructions already published” and that “a diocesan pastor or a parish pastor is competent and motivated to teach” about the Eucharist and worthiness to receive it.

“I don’t think that the issues that we’re bringing up are going to be addressed by a document from the conference or by this initiative on Eucharistic revitalization,” he said.

Bishop Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City, Missouri, pointed out the “division in the conference in terms of how we’re perceiving the context and the letter from Cardinal Ladaria and, therefore, the content of what is being proposed.”

He said that while he would back a “teaching document” on the Eucharist, the draft proposed sounded like it would go beyond that and “there isn’t a strong canonical foundation for us to be involved in the specific question of Eucharistic consistency, the discipline of deciding who gets Communion and who doesn’t.”

Scandal to the Faithful

In support of proceeding with the drafting of the document, many bishops raised concerns about the scandal of the lack of clarity on Eucharistic teaching at the present moment.

Bishop Donald DeGrood of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, said some in his diocese are “scandalized that the U.S. bishops haven’t come out yet with something clear. It’s already in our teachings, I see it as a reaffirming the beautiful faith that God has entrusted to us.”

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, head of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee, said “this is a particularly important moment that we speak” on the Eucharist. He also called Catholic politicians to “integrity” in rebuking “those in public life who then flaunt their Catholicity, love to describe themselves as devout Catholics” and back abortion.

He referenced Biden and his backing of taxpayer-funded abortion calling him “a Catholic president that’s doing the most aggressive thing we’ve ever seen in terms of this attack on life when its most innocent.” Archbishop Naumann recalled the bishops naming abortion as a “pre-eminent” issue in 2019 because “it attacks life at its most vulnerable” and said that Pope Francis had agreed with that assessment during an ad limina visit. He said that “when we receive the Eucharist” we are affirming our beliefs in the teachings of the faith.

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, who wrote earlier this year about why pro-abortion politicians should not receive Communion, also called discussion of the issue “very timely” and said the document would prove a “valuable resource” and serve as a guide for bishops on the Communion issue. He added that the bishops must make a statement on this “core teaching” of the Eucharist because “how can we expect to be taken seriously on any other topic?”

Bishop Donald Hying of Madison, Wisconsin, also viewed the moment as a crucial time for some clarity from the bishops on reception of the Eucharist.

He said he speaks “almost daily” with laity who “are confused by the fact that we have a president who professes devout Catholicism and yet advances the most radical pro-abortion agenda in our history. That leaves them concerned and confused and I think they’re looking for some direction, some teaching from us.”

Bishop Thomas Daly of Spokane, Washington, noted “an aggressiveness in a number of elected officials” on the issue and wondered if the call for waiting and dialogue from some of his fellow bishops “is meant not truly to listen but to delay.” He called this “a time for us to clarify, to speak the truth in humility and charity.”

The bishops need a simple majority for drafting of the document to proceed and to be presented to the general assembly who are expected to meet in person in their November meeting.   Source 


It beggars belief that any bishop would NOT want to ensure that the Church’s teaching – i.e. Christ’s teaching – on worthy reception of Holy Communion is upheld and enforced as much as possible.  It means that those bishops who prefer not to challenge those people, including politicians at the highest level, who receive Communion while not being IN communion with Christ, must surely think that Our Lord got it wrong when He refused to “dialogue” with those of his first followers who abandoned him over this doctrine, saying it was too hard (John 6:61). Far from dialoguing with them, Our Lord turned to the twelve and asked if they, too, would go away. (John 6:68). 

At least the vote went the right way – it’s self-evident, though, that there are bishops who have no intention of enforcing any decisions with which they disagree – we know that because they’re already flouting Canon Law # 915, which prohibits pro-abortionists from approaching for Holy Communion.  So, the  question here is, really, what’s the point?  Is this new document from the American Bishops likely to keep “devout Catholic” Joe Biden from making a mockery of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist? 

Comments (36)

  • Faith of Our Fathers

    As you say at the Start ED what’s the point. Any Catholic worth their Salt knows that we heap Scandal upon ourselves if we Receive the Eucharist in Mortal Sin . As for ANYONE in the Public Eye who Makes Pro Abortion. Pro Homosexuality and Pro Transgender Statements then they Know ,or should know that they then Publicly ,Have to Deny these Statements as against the Law of God . They then of course like us all Have to go to The Sacrament of Reconciliation before they or we go to receive the Eucharist. Again as You Say what’s The Point.
    As I heard a Good Priest say to His congregation ” I wish I could see the same lines at Confession that I see coming up to receive the Eucharist.”
    As for the Likes of Biden. Pelosi. A.O.C. Etc . They know what they do and they also know what they should do. We know that their is none of us who are perfect and that’s what Confession is for.
    Even many Catholics of course now don’t believe in going to Confession as they say that An Act of Contrition suffices. We know this is untrue. In Fact in the Modern Day their are lots of 12 Step Programs for Alcoholics. Addicts Etc and everyone of these whether Your Catholic or Protestant has Confession in a 5th Step where it states. –We Admitted To God To Ourselves and To Another Human Being. The Exact Nature of Our Wrongs — We know that Confession is good for the Soul we were taught that long ago. As for Biden. Whether he knows what HE says or does ,I do not know as He’s just obviously following instructions from the Obama Men .

    June 18, 2021 at 9:19 pm
    • editor


      Unfortunately, not a lot of people think there’s any such thing as mortal sin any more. That’s why we see Catholics cohabiting and engaging in every sort of impurity – including in speech and in dress – without thinking a thing about it. That is why your priest doesn’t see the same long lines for Confession as for Communion. Everybody’s going to Heaven these days, no matter what they think, say or do. Well, nearly everybody…

      June 19, 2021 at 11:11 pm
  • Ed of Ct. Usa

    Biden Should Have been Expelled Yrs. ago when he Married two MEN in the VP. Mansion Yrs. ago. Formal expulsion of Biden ,Pelosi ,DeLauro ,Kaine and Collins etc. is Mandatory. Otherwise they the bishops are a JOKE just like Bergoglio’s Vatican Wayward henchmen and the USELESS spineless Coward Bishops 68 of them Who oppose any action at all. [Ed: calling down a curse on someone can be a very grave sin so I’ve taken the liberty of removing that part of your otherwise very measured and kind response 😀 ]

    June 18, 2021 at 10:57 pm
    • editor

      Ed of Ct, USA,

      Yes, Biden should have been shown the ecclesiastical door a very long time ago, absent his sincere repentance for his public scandals. I’m hearing vague reports that he’s no intention of abiding by any statement or rebuke from the bishops, so it seems that he plans to continue to live what’s left of his manifestly fragile life in grave spiritual danger. He really does need prayers.

      June 19, 2021 at 11:19 pm
  • RCAVictor

    Here’s the not-so delicious irony of all this spineless, pointless bickering and surrender to the world: these bishops who claim to desire to re-present the Church’s teaching on the Real Presence are locked into a liturgy which obscures and diminishes that Presence, and that is directly responsible for the massive loss of faith throughout the Catholic world. And I’d wager that with a little research, we could find out how many of those allegedly concerned about the Real Presence have fostered the celebration of the Traditional Mass in their dioceses.

    There is also a sub-text about the concern of denying politicians like Joke* Biden Holy Communion: the USCCB is on the Federal gravy train for multi-millions of dollars, annually, to “re-settle refugees.” So a show of Catholic spine would no doubt mean a serious cut in their slush funds….

    Same old story: follow the money. Money, by the way, is why they kept heckling and trying to undermine President Trump’s border wall and immigration policy. Meanwhile, has anyone heard a peep out of these bowls of Jell-O about Biden’s border crisis?

    June 18, 2021 at 11:15 pm
    • Athanasius


      You made precisely the point I was about to make, so not point in repeating the point. You’re right also about money. These “shepherds” are drinking from the same water hole as the wolves while the faithful die of thirst for holy leadership. Shocking people!

      June 19, 2021 at 1:26 am
      • editor


        In case anyone has missed the many points of your comment, here’s a thought…

        June 19, 2021 at 11:43 pm
    • editor

      RCA Victor,

      Your opening paragraph reminds me of a question which I keep meaning to ask you – are there many of your bishops (or any?) who favour the Traditional Latin Mass?

      June 19, 2021 at 10:09 am
      • RCAVictor


        I really couldn’t say, though my Bishop is one of them!

        June 20, 2021 at 1:56 am
      • Margaret USA

        Who’s your bishop? Mine is Archbishop Borys Gudziak (Ukrainian Greek Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia – same Pope, different Liturgy).

        June 20, 2021 at 3:32 am
  • editor

    RCA Victor (and all!)

    I meant to include this nugget at the end of my intro (but got distracted)…

    Lifesitenews reports that 14 US bishops have “outed” themselves as officially pro-LGBT – far as I know, none have outed themselves as ACTUALLY LGBT… yet…

    The apostasy is deep – how many of this gang of 14 will give a toss about the slaughter of unborn babies?

    And even the best of the clergy fail to grasp the gravity of what is going on; I watched an interview on the Chris Salcedo show on Newsmax earlier, where Chris was discussing the issue of abortion/Eucharist/Biden with a priest (a Father Leo); Chris referred to the Biden/Pelosi etc bunch as “fake Catholics” but Fr Leo said he wouldn’t call anyone “fake Catholic” – I was wishing I were in that studio because I would have pointed out that all that he is proving by his (fake) charity is that he does not have the proverbial clue. There ARE fake Catholics. Did not Our Lord give us a way of identifying His followers when He said “If you love Me, you will keep My Commandments”? And last time I looked, one of those Commandments sounded a lot like “thou shalt not kill”.

    Gimme strength!

    June 18, 2021 at 11:45 pm
    • RCAVictor


      Here’s a working definition of a fake Catholic: someone who uses the Catholic faith to score points (as in, electoral points) with Catholics, but who doesn’t actually practice the faith, or believe in it. And that’s the shallow end of the spectrum. The deep end of the pool is that they not only don’t believe in it, they work to destroy it.

      I would include every Democrat in Congress at that deep end of the pool.

      Then there’s the other question, of clergy who dress like clergy and perform their clerical functions, but who don’t believe in the faith, and/or actively work to destroy it.

      What should we call them? Oh yes, Modernists. Somehow that label is just not strong enough for me….

      June 19, 2021 at 3:04 am
      • Athanasius


        When we consider that St. Pius X called Modernism “the synthesis of all heresies”, the label “Modernist” takes on a whole new significance.

        June 19, 2021 at 1:51 pm
    • RCAVictor


      I’d say the “orientation outing” is already there among those 14, no further admissions needed. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, has webbed feet and smells like a duck, then….

      June 19, 2021 at 3:08 am
      • editor

        RCA Victor,

        Agree. I just meant that they’re not yet openly saying so but that will come in time, no doubt.

        June 19, 2021 at 10:10 am
    • Faith of Our Fathers

      I Usually keep up with anything new on LSN . To be Honest Ed as we say overhere The Games a Bogey . Of course as it says God is with them and we know that He’s not because one doesn’t need to be Religious to know that Homosexuality is Abnormal and an Abhorrent Practice. It’s is in the Facts, that Practicing Homosexuals Die much younger than Heterosexuals . Of course how many of those Bishops are off the Swish Crowd. My God Jesus would have whipped them out of their Palaces before they could say ” Nighty Night Baby ” . Of course again they’ll only say their following the Godfather and we know that He’s surrounded by Homosexuals.
      God Help Our Youth .

      June 19, 2021 at 4:31 pm
      • editor


        Well, no, the game cannot be a bogey- and it won’t really ever be a bogey; we’ve been promised an end to the “diabolical disorientation” around us and a period of world peace, after the Consecration of Russia, so hand on in there!

        June 19, 2021 at 11:48 pm
  • anonymous

    As has been mentioned –what about Pelosi and Dubin and all the other fake Catholics that spew out that they are religious and they pray for everyone but the unborn.

    June 19, 2021 at 1:23 am
    • editor

      Yes, Anonymous, but look to whom they pray…and how! Totally crackers!

      June 19, 2021 at 11:53 pm
      • Faith of Our Fathers

        That would actually make you Sick . Anyhow at least it was a Gender Neutral Ending prayer . Amen and Awoman. Do these Idiots not even understand the Very Basic understanding of Amen . Obviously not . So Be It . They live in Darkness anyhow.

        June 20, 2021 at 11:02 am
      • RCAVictor


        The PC police have already passed this clown by: he should have said “Amen and A-Birthing Person”….

        Speaking of that deranged mentality:

        June 20, 2021 at 10:28 pm
  • paulinemarygallagher

    The point is that catechising the faithful is urgent and public affirmation of Catholic teaching from the US bishops would reverberate around the world, giving clear guidance to clergy and laity everywhere. Not facing this issue squarely, now, will cause more of the faithful to lose confidence in the USCCB. Being loud and clear about true teaching may cause liberal Catholics to leave. If the Church shrinks, let it be because of bold teaching!

    June 19, 2021 at 9:05 am
    • Josephine

      Pauline Mary Gallagher,

      You are right – there would be repercussions all around the globe if this document states that abortion-supporters are not to take Communion.

      I very much agree with you about bold teaching – Deo gratias!

      June 19, 2021 at 9:21 pm
      • paulinemarygallagher

        Thanks for that, Josephine. The bishops need our prayers, that’s for sure!

        June 21, 2021 at 11:40 pm
    • editor


      You are so right – we need a whole re-education programme for Catholics as a matter of urgency. It’s been urgent for years now – even the modernist Cardinal Winning told a Head Teachers’ Conference some years ago, that it was not possible to blame parents for the lack of religious knowledge among the young because several generations now have not been taught the Faith. It’s shocking to think we have not only parents but teachers and priests as well who do not know the basics of the Faith.

      June 19, 2021 at 11:55 pm
      • paulinemarygallagher

        I now realise (through people like you) that my Catholic education was woefully deficient, Pat. I’m still learning! Yes, Cardinal Winning was a good man.

        June 21, 2021 at 8:40 pm
      • editor


        We’re all still learning, but thank you for your kind remarks.

        June 21, 2021 at 11:45 pm
  • editor

    This will put the Scottish Bishops in a very difficult position if, as expected, Biden comes to Glasgow in November for the daft climate conference.

    They can hardly ignore it if the American Bishops have rebuked Biden and others like him, who claim to be Catholics when they’re about as Catholic as the nearest Buddhist.

    June 19, 2021 at 3:42 pm
    • Josephine


      I agree, the Scottish Bishops will be livid if the US Bishops say that Biden is not to receive Communion. He might not attend the delegates’ Mass while he’s here anyway, but it would be good to know that at least one sacrilegious Communion has been prevented in Scotland.

      June 19, 2021 at 9:18 pm
      • editor


        You are right – the Scottish Bishops won’t be one bit pleased if they have to apply pressure to stop Mr Biden from approaching for Communion. I think they would manoeuvre things so there wasn’t a Mass at all – that’s how I think they would get out of the situation.

        June 19, 2021 at 11:58 pm
    • RCAVictor


      I’m not so sure Biden will make it to November…

      June 20, 2021 at 1:55 am
      • Margaret Mary

        RCA Victor,

        Or if he makes it, he’ll maybe think he’s arrived at the North Pole, LOL! Glasgow in November is like Siberia!

        June 20, 2021 at 11:33 pm
  • Miles Immaculatae

    Modern official documents from bishops’ conferences are so banal that I find them unreadable. Because they are so simplistic they are meaningless. Will anyone actually read it? Not many.

    June 19, 2021 at 7:06 pm
    • Josephine

      Miles Immaculatae,

      I take y our point but I do think the USA bishops will cause a stir (in a good sense) if they do actually do the equivalent of rebuking Biden in their document.

      It’s disturbing though that they feel the need to do that when # 915 of Canon Law already states that public sinners like Biden & Co. are not to receive Communion. That canon is just ignored everywhere and that is a scandal in itself. It the Church won’t enforce its own laws, what’s the point of having them in the first place?

      June 19, 2021 at 9:17 pm
    • editor


      I can’t really challenge you on that because, well, I’ve never read any documents published by any Bishops’ Conference!

      Or did I just prove your point?! 😀

      June 19, 2021 at 11:59 pm
  • gabriel syme

    I am encouraged by the tentative moves of the USCCB. They are right the issue is widen than just the likes of Biden and Pelosi: as well as taking action against such wicked people the Bishops have the chance here to face up to the neglect of adequate catechesis over decades.

    However, this is possibly a dangerous game they play in that, if they do not have the nerve to see it through properly, then they may end up making Chuch teaching even more irrelevant to many than it already is.

    If they make a clear expression of teaching regarding worthiness to receive communion, yet subsequently fail to enforce it, then they will make fools of themselves. Also, they should be prepared for the known apostates in their ranks to refuse to follow teaching and act independently.

    It is nauseating to see Biden’s sycophants – Cupich, Gregory etc – rushing to put the brakes on this. They are completely unworthy for office. They apparent concern for unity is pure self interest. Prelates should only be concerned with being united to God and His Church, instead of something as poxy as a Bishop’s Conference.

    It would be deeply satisfying if the Bishops move did convince a lot of superficial CINOs to take the huff and leave the “Church”. I am sure we are all sick of such people who are like cuckoos in a nest.

    June 27, 2021 at 8:38 pm

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