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The right of protection exercised by a Christian power in an infidel country with regard to the persons and establishments of the missionaries. The term does not apply to all protection of missions, but only to that permanently exercised in virtue of an acquired right, usually established by a treaty or convention (either explicit or tacit), voluntarily consented to or accepted after more or less compulsion by the infidel power. The object of the protectorate may be more or less extensive, according as it embraces only the missionaries who are subjects of the protecting power, or applies to the missionaries of all nations or even to their neophytes, the native Christians. To comprehend fully the nature of the protectorate of missions, as it has been in times past and as it is today, it will be necessary to study separately the Protectorate of the Levant and that of the Far East.

PROTECTORATE OF THE LEVANT

This comprises the missions of the countries under Turkish rule, especially Constantinople, the Archipelago, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Barbary, etc. It is French in origin, and was, until near the end of the nineteenth century, the almost exclusive privilege of France. It was inaugurated in the Holy Land by Charlemagne, who secured from the celebrated Caliph Haroun al-Raschid a sort of share in his sovereignty over the Holy Places of Jerusalem. Charlemagne and his successors made use of this concession to make pious and charitable foundations in the Holy City, to protect the Christian inhabitants and pilgrims, and to insure the perpetuity of Christian worship. The destruction of the Arabian Empire by the Turks put an end to this first protectorate, but the persecutions to which the new Mussulman masters of Jerusalem subjected pious visitors and the clergy in charge of the Holy Sepulchre brought about the Crusades, as a result of which Palestine was conquered from the infidels and became a French kingdom. The Christian rule was later replaced by that of Islam, but during the three centuries of Crusades, which had been undertaken and supported mainly by France, the Christians of the East had grown accustomed to look to that country for assistance in oppression, and the oppressors had learned to esteem and fear the valour of its warriors. In these facts we find the germ of the modern Protectorate of the Levant.

The Capitulations

The protectorate began to assume a contractual form in the sixteenth century, in the treaties concluded between the kings of France and the sultans of Constantinople, which are historically known as Capitulations . At first this name designated the commercial agreement conceded by the Porte to Latin merchants (first to the Italians ), and arose from the fact that the articles of these agreements were called Capitoli in the Italian redaction: the term has not, therefore, the same meaning as in military parlance. Francis I was the first king of France who sought an alliance with Turkey. To this he was urged, not by the spirit of the Crusaders, but entirely by the desire to break in Europe the dominating power of the House of Austria. By compelling Austria to spend its forces in defence against the Turks in the East, he hoped to weaken it and render it unable to increase or even to maintain its power in the West. His successors down to Louis XV followed the same policy, which, whatever criticism it merits, was as a matter of fact favourable to Christianity in the Levant. The French kings sought, by their zeal in defending Christian interests at the Porte , to extenuate their alliance with infidels, which was a source of scandal even in France. As early as 1528, Francis I had appealed to Solyman II to restore to the Christians of Jerusalem a church which the Turks had converted into a mosque. The sultan refused on the plea that his religion would not permit alteration of the purpose of a mosque, but he promised to maintain the Christians in possession of all the other places occupied by them and to defend them against all oppression. However, religion was not the object of a formal convention between France and Turkey prior to 1604, when Henry IV secured from Ahmed I the insertion, in the capitulations of 20 May, of two clauses relative to the protection of pilgrims and of the religious in charge of the church of the Holy Sepulchre . The following are the clauses, which form articles IV and V of the treaty: "IV. We also desire and command that the subjects of the said Emperor of France, and those of the princes who are his friends and allies, may be free to visit the Holy Places of Jerusalem, and no one shall attempt to prevent them nor do them injury"; "V. Moreover, for the honour and friendship of this Emperor, we desire that the religious living in Jerusalem and serving the church of Comane [the Resurrection ] may dwell there, come and go without let or hindrance, and be well received, protected, assisted, and helped in consideration of the above."

It is noteworthy that the same advantages are stipulated for the French and for the friends and allies of France, but for the latter in consideration of, and at the recommendation of France. The fortunate result of this friendship was the development of the missions, which began to flourish through the assistance of Henry IV and Louis XIII and through the zeal of the French missionaries. Before the middle of the seventeenth century religious of various orders (Capuchin, Carmelite, Dominican, Franciscan, and Jesuit ) were established, as chaplains of the French ambassadors and consuls, in the chief cities of the Levant (Constantinople, Alexandria, Smyrna, Aleppo, Damascus, etc.), Lebanon, and the islands of the Archipelago. Here they assembled the Catholics to instruct and confirm them in the Faith, opened schools to which flocked the children of all rites, relieved the spiritual and corporal miseries of the Christians languishing in the frightful Turkish prisons, and nursed the pest-stricken, which last office frequently made them martyrs of charity. During the reign of Louis XIV the missionaries multiplied and extended the field of their activities. This monarch gave them at once a material and a moral support, which the prestige of his victories and conquests rendered irresistible at the Porte . Thanks to him, the often precarious tolerance, on which the existence of the missions had previously depended, was officially recognized in 1673, when on 5 June, Mohammed IV not only confirmed the earlier capitulations guaranteeing the safety of pilgrims and the religious guardians of the Holy Sepulchre, but signed four new articles, all beneficial to the missionaries. The first decrees in a general manner "that all bishops or other religious of the Latin sect who are subjects of France, whatever their condition, shall be throughout our empire as they have been hitherto, and [may] there perform their functions, and no one shall trouble or hinder them"; the others secure the tranquil possession of their churches, explicitly to the Jesuits and Capuchins, and in general "to the French at Smyrna, Saïd, Alexandria, and in all other ports of the Ottoman Empire ".

The reign of Louis XIV marked the apogee of the French Protectorate in the East, for not only the Latin missionaries of all nationalities, but also the heads of all Catholic communities, regardless of rite or nationality, appealed to the Grand Roi , and, at the recommendation of his ambassadors and consuls to the Porte and the pashas, obtained justice and protection from their enemies. Though the missionaries were sometimes on such amicable terms with the non-Catholic clergy that the latter authorized them to preach in their churches, they usually experienced a lively hostility from that quarter. On several occasions the Greek and Armenian schismatical patriarchs, displeased at seeing a great portion of their flocks abandon them for the Roman priests, on various pretexts persuaded the Turkish Government to forbid all propagandism by the latter. The representatives of Louis XIV successfully opposed this ill-will. At the beginning of the reign of Louis XV the preponderance of French influence with the Porte was also manifested in the authority granted the Franciscans, who were protégés of France, to repair the dome of the Holy Sepulchre : this meant the recognition of their right of proprietorship in the Holy Sepulchre as superior to the claims of the Greeks and the Armenians. In 1723 the schismatical patriarchs succeeded in obtaining from the Sultan a "command" forbidding his Christian subjects to embrace the Roman religion, and the Latin religious to hold any communication with the Greeks, Armenians, and Syrians, on the pretext of instructing them. For a long time French diplomacy sought in vain to have this disastrous measure revoked. At last, as a reward for the services rendered to Turkey during its wars with Russia and Austria (1736-9), the French succeeded in 1740 in securing the renewal of the capitulations, with additions which explicitly confirmed the right of the French Protectorate, and at least implicitly guaranteed the liberty of the Catholic apostolate. By the eighty-seventh of the articles signed, 28 May, 1740, Sultan Mahmud declares: ". . . The bishops and religious subject to the Emperor of France living in my empire shall be protected while they confine themselves to the exercise of their office, and no one may prevent them from practising their rite according to their custom in the churches in their possession, as well as in the other places they inhabit; and, when our tributary subjects and the French hold intercourse for purposes of selling, buying, and other business, no one may molest them for this sake in violation of the sacred laws." In subsequent treaties between France and Turkey the capitulations are not repeated verbatim, but they are recalled and confirmed (e.g. in 1802 and 1838). The various regimes which succeeded the monarchy of St. Louis and of Louis XIV all maintained in law, and in fact, the ancient privilege of France in the protection of the missionaries and Christian communities of the Orient. The expedition in 1860 sent by Napoleon III to put a stop to the massacre of the Maronites was in harmony with the ancient rôle of France, and would have been more so if its work of justice had been more complete. The decline in recent years of the French Protectorate in the Levant will be treated below.

PROTECTORATE OF THE FAR EAST

Portuguese Patronage in the Far East

this refers especially to China -- there was not, prior to the nineteenth century, any protectorate properly so called or based on a treaty. What is sometimes called the "Portuguese Protectorate of Missions" was only the "Portuguese Patronage" ( Padroado ). This was the privilege, granted by the popes to the Crown of Portugal, of designating candidates for the sees and ecclesiastical benefices in the vast domains acquired through the expeditions of its navigators and captains in Africa and the East Indies. This concession, which brought to the King of Portugal a certain portion of the ecclesiastical revenues of his kingdom, carried the condition that he should send good missionaries to his new subjects, and that he should provide with a fitting endowment such dioceses, parishes, and religious establishments as should be established in his acquired territories. At first Portugal's zeal and generosity for the spread of Christianity corresponded to the liberality of the sovereign pontiffs manifested in the grant of the padroado; but in the course of time this patronage became the source of most unpleasant annoyances to the Holy See and one of the chief obstacles to the progress of the missions. The main cause of this regrettable change was the failure of Portugal to observe the conditions agreed upon at the time of the bestowal of the privilege : another reason was the disagreement between Portugal and the Holy See with regard to the extent of the patronage, for, while Rome maintained that it had never granted the privilege except for really conquered countries, Lisbon claimed the right for all the countries designated by the famous demarcation of Alexander VI as future possessions of Portugal. In virtue of this interpretation the Portuguese Government violently contested the papal right to appoint, without its consent, missionary bishops or vicars Apostolic in countries which were never subject to its dominion, such as the greater part of India, Tong-king, Cochin-China, Siam, and especially China. In the vast Chinese empire, where Portugal had never possessed more than Macao, the popes consented to end the strife by a sort of compromise. Besides the See of Macao they created in the two chief cities, Peking and Nanking, bishoprics in the appointment of the King of Portugal, to which were assigned five of the Chinese provinces; the other provinces were left to the vicars Apostolic named personally by the pope. This system lasted from 1696 to 1856, when Pius IX suppressed the titles of the sees of Peking and Nanking; thenceforth all the Christian settlements of China were administered only by vicars Apostolic.

Passing over the quarrels regarding the padroado , we must confess that the missions of the East owe much to the munificence of the kings of Portugal, although these were never accepted by the infidel sovereigns as the official protectors of the missionaries, much less of the native Christians. Portugal strove to play this honourable rôle in China, especially by dispatching formal embassies to Peking during the eighteenth century, for, besides their ostensible instructions, the ambassadors received orders to intervene as much as possible in behalf of the missionaries and native Christians, who were then being cruelly persecuted in the provinces. The first of these embassies (1727) almost had a disastrous ending, when the Portuguese envoy, Dom Metello de Souza, petitioned the Emperor Yung-ching to recognize the liberty of Christian preaching; the second (1753) avoided a similar danger by maintaining silence on this critical point. It is only just to add that these embassies, having flattered Chinese vanity, procured for the mission a measure of respite from, or moderation of, the persecution. Later, by expelling the Jesuits and other religious societies which had established for it such successful missions, Portugal excluded itself from subsequently occupying any position in a sphere in which it had earlier been foremost, and by its own act destroyed the basis of its patronage and its protectorate, such as it was.

French Protectorate in China

The protectorate still exercised by France over the missions in the Chinese Empire dates, as far as a regular convention is concerned, only from the middle of the nineteenth century, but the way was prepared by the protection which French statesmen had accorded the missionaries for almost two centuries. The zeal and liberality of Louis XIV permitted the foundation of the great French Jesuit mission, which in less than fifteen years (1687-1701) more than doubled the number of apostolic workers in China, and which never ceased to produce most capable workers. The first official relations were formed between France and China when the missionaries brought thither by the "Amphitrite", the first French vessel seen in Chinese waters (1699), presented gifts from Louis XIV to Emperor K'ang-hi. The two monarchs shared the expense of erecting the first French church at Peking: the emperor donated the ground, within the limits of the imperial city, and the building materials, while the French king supplied the money to pay for the labour, the decoration, and the magnificent liturgical ornaments. Several other churches erected in the provinces through the munificence of Louis XIV increased the prestige of France throughout the empire. Under Louis XV the mission in China, like many other things, was somewhat overlooked, but the government did not wholly neglect it. It found a zealous protector in Louis XVI's minister, Bertin, but it felt keenly the suppression of the Society of Jesus and the French Revolution with all its consequences, which dried up the source of the apostolate in Europe. It was a handful of French missionaries ( Lazarists or members of the Society of Foreign Missions ), assisted by some Chinese priests, who preserved the Faith throughout the persecutions of the early nineteenth century, during which several of them were martyred.

Treaties of T'ien-tsin

When the English, after the so-called Opium War, imposed on China the Treaty of Nanking (1842), they did not at first ask for religious liberty, but the murder of the Lazarist John Gabriel Perboyre (11 Sept., 1840) becoming known, they added an article stipulating that thenceforth a missionary taken in the interior of the country should not be tried by the Chinese authorities, but should be delivered to the nearest consul of his country. On 24 Oct., 1844, Théodose de Lagrené, French ambassador, secured further concessions which inaugurated a new era. The treaty properly so-called, which was signed on that date at Wampoa (near Canton), speaks only of liberty for the French to settle in certain territory in the open ports, but, at the request of the ambassador, an imperial edict was sent to the mandarins and at least partially promulgated, which praised the Christian religion and removed the prohibition for Chinese to practise it. However, the murder of the missionary Chapdeleine (1856) and other facts showed the insufficiency of the guarantees accorded to Europeans ; to obtain others, England and France had recourse to arms. The war (1858-60), which showed China its weakness, was ended by the treaties of T'ien-tsin (24-25 Oct., 1860). They contained an article which stipulated freedom for the missionaries to preach and for the Chinese to embrace Christianity. This article was included in the treaties which other powers a little later concluded with China. To the treaty with France was also added a supplementary article, which reads as follows: "An imperial edict conformable to the imperial edict of 20 Feb., 1846 [that secured by M. de Lagrené], will inform the people of the whole empire that soldiers and civilians be permitted to propagate and practise the religion of the Lord of Heaven [ Catholic ], to assemble for explanation of doctrine, to build churches wherein to celebrate their ceremonies. Those [the mandarins] who henceforth make searches or arbitrary arrests must be punished. Furthermore, the temples of the Lord of Heaven, together with the schools, cemeteries, lands, buildings etc., which were confiscated formerly when the followers of the religion of the Lord of Heaven were persecuted, shall be either restored or compensated for. Restoration is to be made to the French ambassador residing at Peking, who will transfer the property to the Christians of the localities concerned. In all the provinces also the missionaries shall be permitted to rent or purchase lands and erect buildings at will". The general and exclusive right of protection granted to the French over all the Catholic missions in China could not be more explicitly recognized than it was by this agreement, which made the French ambassador the indispensable intermediary in the matter of all restitutions. And the representatives of France never ceased to make full use of this right in favour of the missionaries, whom from the middle of the nineteenth century a revival of Apostolic zeal drew from all countries to China. From them the passports necessary to penetrate into the interior of the country were regularly sought, and to them were addressed complaints and claims, which it was their duty to lay before the Chinese Government. The French ministers also secured, not without difficulty, the necessary additions to the Treaty of T'ien-tsin -- such, for instance, as the Berthemy Convention (1865) with the Gerard addition (1895), regulating the important question of the purchase of lands and buildings in the interior.

Rivals of the French Protectorate

The foregoing historical sketch shows that the ancient French right of protection over the missions, in both Turkey and China, was established as much by constant exercise and by services rendered as by treaties. Furthermore, it was based on the fundamental right of the Church, derived from God Himself, to preach the Gospel everywhere and to receive from Christian powers the assistance necessary to enable her to perform her task untrammelled. The desire to further the Church's mission, which always guided the French monarchs to a greater or less extent, does not influence the present government. The latter endeavours, however, to preserve the prerogative of its predecessors, and continues to lend protection, though much diminished, to the Catholic missionary undertakings -- even to those directed by religious who are proscribed in France (e.g. it subsidizes the Jesuit schools in Syria ). The advantages of the protectorate are too obvious even to the least clerical of the ministers for them not to attempt to retain them, whatever the resulting contradictions in their policy. It is very evident that France owes to this protectorate throughout the Levant and in the Far East a prestige and a moral influence which no commerce or conquest could ever have given her. Thanks to the protectorate, the treasures of respect, gratitude, and affection won by the Catholic missionaries have to a certain extent become the property of France ; and, if the French entertained doubts as to the utility of this time-honoured privilege (a few anti-clericals attempt to obscure the evidence on this point), the efforts of rival nations to secure a share of it would prove enlightening. These efforts have been frequent, especially since 1870, and have been to a large extent successful.

As early as 1875, at the time of the negotiations between France and Egypt with regard to judiciary reform, the German Government declared "that it recognized no exclusive right of protection of any power in behalf of Catholic establishments in the East, and that it reserved its rights with regard to German subjects belonging to any of these establishments." In Germany and Italy a paragraph of article sixty-two of the Treaty of Berlin, which had been signed by all the European powers in 1878, was used as a weapon against the exclusive protectorate of France : "Ecclesiastics, pilgrims, and monks of all nationalities travelling in Turkey in Europe or Turkey in Asia shall enjoy the same rights, advantages, and privileges. The official right of protection of the diplomatic and consular agents of the Powers in Turkey is recognized, with regard both to the above-mentioned persons and to their religious, charitable, and other establishments in the Holy Places and elsewhere." The passage immediately following this paragraph in the article was overlooked: "The acquired rights of France are explicitly reserved, and there shall be no interference with the statu quo in the Holy Places." Thus the protection guaranteed to all ecclesiastics, etc., no matter what their nationality or religion, as well as the generally recognized right of all the powers to watch over this protection, should be understood with the reservation of the "acquired rights " of France i.e. of its ancient protectorate in behalf of Catholics. This protectorate is, therefore, really confirmed by the Treaty of Berlin.

But, as a matter of fact, the influence of Russia, which has assumed the protectorate of Christians of the Greek Rite, has already greatly affected the standing which the ancient French Protectorate had assured to Catholics in Palestine and especially in Jerusalem. Moreover, Emperor William II of Germany has installed Protestantism with a magnificent church beside the Holy Sepulchre (1898). As a sort of compensation he has indeed ceded to German Catholics the site of the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin, which he obtained from the sultan; here a church and a monastery have been erected and, together with the other German establishments, have been placed under the protection of the German Empire, without the slightest deference to the ancient prerogative of France. A similar situation prevails in China. First, in 1888, Germany obtained from the Chinese Government that German passports should insure the same advantages to the missionaries as those secured at the French legation. At the same time the German Catholic missionaries of Shan-tung, who had much to endure from the infidels, were on several occasions offered the powerful protection of the German Empire. Mgr Anzer, the vicar Apostolic, decided to accept it, after having, as he declares, several times sought unsuccessfully the aid of the French minister. In 1896 the German ambassador at Peking received from Berlin the command not only to support energetically the claims of the Catholic missionaries but even to declare that the German Empire would pledge itself to defend against all unjust oppression the persons and property of the mission of Shan-tung, together with freedom of preaching, in the same measure in which such had been formerly guaranteed by the French Protectorate. The murder of two of the Shan-tung missionaries in Nov., 1897, afforded the occasion for a more solemn affirmation of the new protectorate, while it furnished a long-sought pretext for the occupation of Kiao-chow.

Austria had a better foundation for claiming a share in the Catholic protectorate, as, in various treaties concluded with the Porte (1699, 1718, and 1739), it had secured a right of protection over "the religious" in the Turkish Empire and even at Jerusalem. Whatever the meaning of this concession (apparently it did not include liberty of worship), it was never confirmed by usage, except in the countries bordering on Austria (notably Albania and Macedonia ). In 1848 the Austrian Protectorate was extended to the mission of the Sudan and Nigritia, which was in the care of Austrian priests ; apparently for this reason, when the Coptic Catholic hierarchy was restored in Egypt by Leo XIII (1895), the new patriarch and his suffragans placed themselves under the protection of Austria.

Italy also has been very active in seeking to acquire a protectorate of missions, by patronizing societies for the assistance of the missionaries and by legislative measures intended to prove its benevolence to the Italian missionaries and persuade them to accept its protection. It even attempted by attractive promises to win over the Propaganda, but the Sacred Congregation discouraged it by a circular addressed to the Italian missionaries of the Levant and the Far East on 22 May, 1888. This not only forbade the missionaries to adopt towards official representatives of Italy any attitude which might be interpreted as favouring the Piedmontese usurpations in Italy, but once more affirmed the privilege of France in the most formal manner: "They [the missionaries] know that the Protectorate of the French Nation in the countries of the East has been established for centuries and sanctioned even by treaties between the empires. Therefore, there must be absolutely no innovation in this matter; this protectorate, wherever it is in force, is to be religiously preserved, and the missionaries are warned that, if they have need of any help, they are to have recourse to the consuls and other ministers of France."

THE PROTECTORATE AND THE HOLY SEE

The instance just mentioned was not the only occasion on which the Holy See undertook the defence of the French Protectorate. Whenever missionaries sought protection other than that of France, French diplomacy complained to Rome, and the Propaganda was always careful to reprimand the missionaries and to remind them that it appertained to France alone to protect them against infidel powers. Two such instances relating to the years 1744 and 1844 and selected from many others, are cited by the author of the study of the French Protectorate in the "Civiltà Cattolica" (5 November, 1904). To these may be added Leo XIII's confirmation of the Decree of 1888 in his reply to Cardinal Langénieux , Archbishop of Reims, dated 1 August, 1898: "France has a special mission in the East confided to her by xxyyyk.htm">Providence -- a noble mission consecrated not alone by ancient usage, but also by international treaties, as has been recognized recently by Our Congregation of the Propaganda in its deliberation of 22 May, 1888. The Holy See does not wish to interfere with the glorious patrimony which France has received from its ancestors and which beyond a doubt it means to deserve by always showing itself equal to its task." This attitude of the Holy See is the best defence of the French Proteotorate, and is in fact its only defence against the manœuvres of its rivals as regards missions not under the direction of French subjects. The latter would have difficulty in resisting the pressing invitations extended to them from other quarters, if the Holy See left them free to accept. Rome gives still another proof of respect for the acquired rights of France by refusing, as it has hitherto done, to accredit permanent legates or ministers to Constantinople and Peking. For a time the idea, supported by the official agents of the Turkish and Chinese governments, attracted Leo XIII, but he dismissed it at the instance of French diplomats, who represented to him that the object was less to establish amicable relations between the Holy See and Turkey or China than to evade the tutelage of the lay protectorate. Pius X has done nothing to alter the protectorate, although some action in this direction would perhaps have been but a just reprisal for the disloyal separation.

Some Objections

The protectorate of missions is, however, open to some criticism both in theory and in practice. This article will not deal with attacks based solely on hatred of religion; the following are the most plausible objections which have influenced even friends of the apostolate to the extent of making them sometimes doubtful of the usefulness of the institution, even for the missions. The protectorate, it is said, is unwillingly tolerated by the authorities of infidel countries; it embitters the antipathy and hatred excited by the Christians in those countries, and causes the missionaries, who rely on its support, to be insufficiently mindful of the sensibilities of the natives and on their guard against excessive zeal. The modicum of truth contained in these objections shows that the exercise of the protectorate requires great wisdom and discretion. Naturally, the infidel powers chafe somewhat under it as a yoke and an uncomfortable and even humiliating servitude, but so long as they do not assure to the missionaries and their works the security and guarantees of justice which are found in Christian countries (and experience has shown how little this is the case in Turkey and China ), the proteotorate remains the best means of providing them. But, to obviate as much as possible the odium attached to the meddling of one foreign power in the affairs of another, this intervention is reduced to what is absolutely necessary. The solution of the delicate problem lies in the cordial union and prudent collaboration of the agents of the protectorate and the heads of the mission, and these things it is not impossible to realize in practice. When it is learned that the superior of the mission of south-east Chi-li during the difficult period from 1862 to 1884 had recourse to the French legation only three times and arranged all other difficulties directly with the local Chinese authorities (Em. Becker, "Le R. P. Joseph Gonnet", Ho-kien-fou, 1907, p. 275), it will be understood that the French Protectorate is not necessarily a heavy burden, either for those who exercise it or for those bound by it. The abuses which may arise are due to the men, not to the system; for, after all, the missionaries, though not faultless, are most anxious that it should not be abused. Perhaps the abuse most to be feared is that the protectors should seek payment for their services by trammelling the spiritual direction of the mission or by demanding political services in exchange: a complete history of the protectorate would show, we believe, such abuses and others to be insignificant when compared with the benefits conferred by this institution on religion and civilization.


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