Are Protestant communities salvific and if so, how?

This question may get moved to the Apologetics forum, but I wanted to get a Traditional view on this issue since it seems to involve an evolution of Church thought. From the Catechism:

818 “However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers … All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church.”

819 “Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth” are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: “the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements.” Christ’s Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him, and are in themselves calls to “Catholic unity.”

What does this mean? Does this mean that Protestant communities are salvific? If so, how can that be? Are they not subject to the same “rules,” if you will, that Catholics are? Does mortal sin not exist for them? How are they sanctified without the Sacraments? It just seems that they are getting a bye on some of the requirements for salvation. This is a bit confusing for me … sorry, I can be a rock at times. :confused:

thanks for any and all input.

They are salvific in that the truth that they teach comes from the Catholic Church which comes from Jesus.

In the same way a priest who preaches some dissent can also speak truth and teach correctly in certain areas. Or a Math teacher who might not teach division correctly, can teach addition correctly.

They can be instruments of truth in conveying the truth, regardless of the errors.

Now on the other hand the error is what will damn you, if someone advocates insulting Jesus by ignoring His presence in the Blessed Sacrament and even intentionally disrespecting Him, I would fear for the person’s Salvation. We do not know what God can do right before they die, so we can always hold out hope.

In Christ
Scylla

So, since most (if not all) Protestants deny the True Presence in the Eucharist, the primacy of the See of Peter, and a host of other Catholic dogmas, are they damned? I am trying to get down to where the rubber meets the road!

Thanks!

Those that Know that The Catholic Church has the Fullness of the Deposit of Faith with Sacrad Tradition and Sacrad Scripture, and still choose to reject it are damned.

If one has complete Ignorance of The truth’s of the Catholic Church then they cannot be held accountable

Protestant ecclesial communities are not salvific of themselves (of their nature, as is the Catholic Church by its divine constitution). Whatever they possess that may be salvific or however God may use them to save someone, those things are derived from the Catholic Church (baptism, Scripture, etc) and are themselves calls to union with the Catholic Church.

If they outright deny these things, in full knowledge and understanding of what it is that they are denying, they would be damned. If they never even heard of them to begin with, or if they are just parroting something they read in a book without knowing what it means, then likely not - they would be in the same situation as a toddler Catholic who has not yet been educated in the things of the Faith.

Yeah, but what if they could have known but chose not to? Are they not culpable for their failure to invistigate or to respond to whatever actual graces the Lord sends their way in this matter? We can sin by what we do, and what we fail to do, as the Confitier says.

With all due respect, these three brief paragraphs don’t do the subject justice - and are ambiguous. I mean, it’s true such folks can’t be charged with the “sin of separation” since they were never within the visible bonds of HMC to begin with - but what of the sin of “remaining separated”? It doesn’t address this.

Yet there were plenty of teachings on the subject of Protestantism since the time of the initial separation. Surely all these weren’t addressing the long dead originators of the separation - they were addressing folks who were, in fact, born into it. For example, take the words of Pope Pius XI…
11. Furthermore, in this one Church of Christ no man can be or remain who does not accept, recognize and obey the authority and supremacy of Peter and his legitimate successors. Did not the ancestors of those who are now entangled in the errors of Photius and the reformers, obey the Bishop of Rome, the chief shepherd of souls? Alas their children left the home of their fathers, but it did not fall to the ground and perish for ever, for it was supported by God. Let them therefore return to their common Father, who, forgetting the insults previously heaped on the Apostolic See, will receive them in the most loving fashion. For if, as they continually state, they long to be united with Us and ours, why do they not hasten to enter the Church, “the Mother and mistress of all Christ’s faithful”?[25] Let them hear Lactantius crying out: “The Catholic Church is alone in keeping the true worship. This is the fount of truth, this the house of Faith, this the temple of God: if any man enter not here, or if any man go forth from it, he is a stranger to the hope of life and salvation. Let none delude himself with obstinate wrangling. For life and salvation are here concerned, which will be lost and entirely destroyed, unless their interests are carefully and assiduously kept in mind.”[26] (Mortalium Animos, 1928, Pope Pius XI)
[FONT=Arial]Notice from the first bolded part, this is addressing those decendents of the Reformers - protestants born into the various protestant faiths. And continuing through the paragraph, the last bolded part mentions both those who “enter not here” and those who “go forth from it” as being strangers to the hope of life and salvation.[/FONT]

[FONT=Arial]Something ain’t fittin’ correctly here. I’m not saying the Catechism is teaching “formal error” - I just don’t think it’s giving the whole picture - and can too easily give the wrong impression. [/FONT]

Peace in Christ,

DustinsDad

CCC Paragraph 1793–If–on the contrary–the ignorance is invisible, or the moral subject is not responsible for his erroneous judgment, the evil committed by the person cannot be imputed to him. It remains no less an evil, a privation, a disorder. One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience.

Protestants are considered “invincibly ignorant.” They have been separated from Christ’s Church for so long that their rejection of the His Church cannot be imputed to them because they honestly don’t know any better.

I was Protestant for 47 years. I certainly had no idea that the Catholic Church really was Christ’s Church. And because I was faithful to my Protestant churches, I had no time to investigate. As far as I knew, there was no reason to investigate. I honestly, in my heart of hearts, believed that my churches were teaching the full truth.

When I started investigating the Catholic Church, there came a moment when the Holy Spirit told me, “You now KNOW that this is the truth. If you reject it, you will be condemned, because you are now culpable.”

My husband had the same experience.

And we both made the decision to obey the Holy Spirit and convert to the True Church, the Catholic Church.

I am having a difficult time wondering why anyone would be eager to pronounce that the Protestants are “not saved” or that their communities are not salvific. First of all, only God can make that pronouncment; not even Catholics can say, “I am definitely saved.” We can only say, “I hope to be saved, through the mercy of God.”

Secondly, our Catholic faith teaches clearly that when someone is baptized in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, they are born-again Christians and the Holy Spirit is in them and will work to help them get to heaven.

As an ex-Protestant, I think that it would be wise to approach Protestants and others not with the “fire and brimstone, you’re going to hell” argument, but rather, with the argument that “You are a Christian. Let me tell you about Christ’s Church and why you should consider joining it.” Even better, I think it’s best not to say anything, but let your life demonstrate that your Church IS the True Church of Jesus Christ.

I was LOVED into the Catholic Church by those who welcomed me as a beloved Christian sister. If they had told me that I was not saved, I would have fled, because I knew that the Bible clearly disagreed with them. St. Peter clearly said, “Believe and be baptized.”

Only God can judge the heart. Most of those evangelized persons do not understand any of the Catholic dogmas you note here. They have not been taught about them at all, or they have been taught lies. A person is not damned on the basis of what they do not know, or do not understand. Such persons are judged in the light of their own concsience. Our task is to instruct them more accurately in the things of God:

Acts 18:24-26

24 Now a Jew named Apol’los, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, well versed in the scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aq’uila heard him, they took him and expounded to him the way of God more accurately.

Many of them are zealous like Apol’los, lacking complete instruction.

On the other hand, each of us is responsible to the extent we have been taught, and if we know what is right to do, and fail to do it, for us, it is a sin.

To those whom much is given, much will be required!

Certainly. I also think that “invincible ignorance” is much more rare than some would have us think.

With all due respect, these three brief paragraphs don’t do the subject justice - and are ambiguous. I mean, it’s true such folks can’t be charged with the “sin of separation” since they were never within the visible bonds of HMC to begin with - but what of the sin of “remaining separated”? It doesn’t address this.

Obviously, someone who became aware that the Catholic Church is Christ’s Church, and that no other church can honestly make the same claim, needs to become a Catholic.

[FONT=Arial]Something ain’t fittin’ correctly here. I’m not saying the Catechism is teaching “formal error” - I just don’t think it’s giving the whole picture - and can too easily give the wrong impression. [/FONT]

I tend to agree with your assessment on that - I think Protestants do need to be made aware of their situation, and be given the opportunity to rectify it, whenever the opportunity presents itself. But we need to do so gently, in most cases. (There are also cases of people who need to be clubbed over the head and dragged to RCIA by the hair, but these are quite rare.)

Father Wiener is one of the better Catholic priests that I have come across, and this is the way he explains it:

Question by Newspaper Reporter:

I don’t mean to badger you about this, but these issues have been widely talked about in the news lately, in the coverage of the Latin Mass. So I wanted to get your side of the story …

Answer by Father Michael Wiener:

I’m used to explaining to people, if they ask me, that when we say that the Catholic Church has the full truth, that does not mean that nobody can be saved outside of the Catholic Church. It means that Christ is our universal savior, and the Catholic Church is, so to say, the most safe ship with which we can cross the Atlantic or the ocean. The Catholic Church is the best equipped ship to reach eternity.

.

Sin either by commission or omission requires that one know that the matter is wrong. Most Protestants I have met are firmly convinced that what their church teaches them is right and what we teach is wrong; and that goes to the essence of sin. If they do not have knowledge of the truth - that the truth is the truth - they cannot fulfill one of the requirements of sin.

Again, perhaps not explicitly in the quoted text; but just as we do not proof-text from the Bible, niether should we from the Catechism. One still needs to put together all the parts. Furthermore, it wasn’t meant to be a full exegesis on each and every aspect of the Faith, just as the Baltimore Catechism wasn’t meant to be.

[/FONT]
I would suggest that the text I selected out of the text you selected is the group of people the pope was speaking of and to; and that fits only within a narrow group. The question posited is not about those seeking or desiring to be united; it is about salvation of Protestants in general. Most of those I have met think that the Catholic Church should join them, as they consider us in error. Not exactly the same mindset as the pope seems to be speaking to and of.

Again, it is not menat to be a text on the subject. It fits quite correctly when read in the context of the rest of the Catechism, and the teaching of the Church

Actually, Dustin’s Dad was asking if there is a duty to investigate; but there is not an absolute duty, or all Catholics would be running around investigating who knows what instead of being Catholic (which is not exactly a static thing). The duty to investigate comes when one has found a question. It would be facitious to presume that morally people have a duty to consider that what they are taught is not the truth, most particularly when they are taught it being backed up with Scripture. You and I may know that they were taught wrongly, that the Scripture quote was out of context, or wrongly interpreted, and that Scripture by itself is not the sum of Faith; but if they had a question and asked their pastor, and believed the answer given, why would they have a moral duty to go further if they felt that was the truth? Invincible ignorance is, in my experience , much wider than many think. I have met too many Protestants to think otherwise.

Absolutely.

Well, yeah - but if they are totally convinced - wouldn’t they convert anyway? (And don’t they all need to convert - ignorant or not? Seriously.)

But what of those who are aware that the Catholic Church claims to be Christ’s Church and yet discount this claim because they never had the “zeal” for Christ to actually look into it for who knows what reason? What if they are perfectly happy and content with a heresy such as “once saved always saved” and feel no need to go further or even to entertain the notion of “those Catholic claims”? Despite the ramifications of what such a heresy can to for this soul specifically - what of that rejection of the Truth for convenience sake? Somewhere in there culpability can pop up - even if they never got around to “being convinced” of the Catholic claims. Do you see what I mean?

Another example - perhaps the whole notion of the Real Presense just “turns them off” - it “doesn’t make sense” to them and they go on there way, never having given this crazy concept a second thought. I mean there’s a fine line in there between invincible ignorance and willful rejection. The line itself has eternal consequences, no?

Also, to think that the sin of holding to heresy can only apply to those who are totally convinced that the heresy they hold to actually is heresy, well, that just isn’t logical to me.

Somewhere in all of this, people are responsible for their response to the Gospel. All of it - not just part of it. And in essense, that means their response to the Church he founded - I just hope us in the Church are offering a clear and urgent invitation to Christ’s Church in the first place. But if we walk around saying that “most everybody” can be saved despite their beliefs and rejections - then it sort of makes conversion to Christ’s Church non-essential.

Peace in Christ,

DustinsDad

Well hold on a second. Alot of folks walked away from Christ, and alot of heretics have been excommunicated by the Church…all thought they were right. Was there no sin involved here? The fact that someone is “convinced they are right” isn’t really the end of it. This is really drifting close to moral relativity, no?

I see what you are getting at, and it’s relation to the three things that make up mortal sin (serious matter, full knowledge, and consent of the will). And that’s interesting. But just going at this off the top of my head I could say it would be handled this way…
[LIST=1]
*]the serious matter can be the rejection of the Gospel itself (or any part of it)
*]the full knowledge can be the person knowing the Catholic Church claims to be the Church established by Christ whose job it is to preach the Gospel
*]the consent of the will is their rejection this Church’s Gospel[/LIST]Somewhere in number two can be inculpable ignorance (no fault of their own) or culpable (their lacking full knowledge can be their own fault - for a variety of reasons).

Two things keep popping up to me as I ponder this dilemma - the first is the words of Christ Himself…Matthew 7:21-22 "Not every one who says to me, Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me,Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ These folks seem to me to be genuinely surprised that they aren’t going to be with the Lord in heaven. They knew him - but they were rejecting something crucial - His will was not done in their lives.

And the other is from the ***Catechism of Pope St. Pius X***29 Q. But if a man through no fault of his own is outside the Church, can he be saved?A. If he is outside the Church through no fault of his, that is, if he is in good faith, and if he has received Baptism, or at least has the implicit desire of Baptism; and if, moreover, he sincerely seeks the truth and does God’s will as best he can such a man is indeed separated from the body of the Church, but is united to the soul of the Church and consequently is on the way of salvation.This gives reason to hope for those outside the visible bonds of Holy Mother Church - but it’s in how one defines “through no fault of his own” that is tricky - (seems to be more broadly applied now than just a few decades ago). It seem to me to be better to not generally assume that this is normative. Individually, in our circle of friends, etc., certainly we can approach them with charity and hope and pray they are outside due to ignorance - and then work to overcome this ignorance.

I say this because “through no fault of their own” doesn’t save in and of itself, it only makes it possible. And this possibility of salvation is always so much more difficult - even if the person is ignorant of the truth of the Church “through no fault of their own” - because they are cut off from the very specific and tangible means of Salvation the Good Lord entrusted to His Church. The avenues of grace that are the Sacraments.

(continued)

I can see how this might be the case. Perhaps Pope Pius XI is talking to just a narrow group of Protestants. (I see it as talking to all the various protestant groups who were engaged in the ecumenism at the time, which recognized that there should be some sort of unity among Christians).

But then, do you have anything prior to VII that did discuss the salvation of Protestants in a “general sense” - I mean aside from the Council of Trent, and all the specific condemnations and anathemas attached to the heretical teachings therein? I’m trying to find something that would hint at the same “flavor” of more recent documents.

And have you read IAM VOS OMNES, It’s an apostolic letter written by Pope Pius IX addressed to all Protestants and other Non-Catholics at the convocation of the first Vatican Council. I have only found the one link for it (only English translation I could find online), and the website where it’s posted is, I believe, a sedevacantist group. So consider only the text of the letter, and not any commentary also found on this website (unless you doubt the validity of the letter because of where it’s located - I’m cool with that…still looking to see if I can find an official translation). I came across this letter quoted in an article a while back, and began looking for it. This is the only place I could find it.

One last thing before I go - I too have dear and close friends who are Protestant. Some are very devout “good people” who sincerely believe they are right and truly love the Lord. It’s a perplexing situation I admit. I can only approach it as I described above…I hope and pray that they just don’t know what and who they are rejecting by remaing where they are - and I try to overcome this. with an ever open invitation to talk about the Church’s teachings and to come home! I just hope I’m doing enough and taking the situation seriously enough. I can sin by ommission too!

Now hoping and praying that this is the case (that they are outside inculpably) is one thing - declaring it so is another. I can’t do that…isn’t my place. The Lord reads the hearts.

That’s all - Peace in Christ,

DustinsDad

Sorry, it took a while to dig up what I was looking for.

St Paul is the first Catholic to talk about salvation to those who were not specific members of the Church: see Romans 2:16 and Romans 3:29.

The article I used was from Catholic Culture: it speaks (without identifying specifically) Fathers of the Church who, for example were convinced that (some of) the great pre-Christian Greeks were saved by their adherence to the “logos”, the Spirit of Christ; the Holy Spirit. Paul defines faith throughout his writings as having 3 elements: 1) Reading and believing what the Spirit writes in our hearts; 2) having confidence in it, and 3) obeying it.

What the Church said at Vatican 2 (see Lumen Gentium) is not that people will be saved because of any other creed they may profess or church they may be in; but in spite of these things by their response to the Spirit of God in their hearts, which somehow invisibly joins them to the Church.

Pope Pius XII spoke in Mystici Corporis of “being ordered to” the Church by “an intense desire of which they are unaware”.

Eugenius IV in 1442 in Cantate Domino (often cited in support of a very restrictive view) actually said that those outside could not be saved unless “before the end of their lives” they are “added to” the Church. This is not in contradiction to the above, although some understand it to be; he did not say restrictively how they could be added (or not added).

Awareness of human psychology has shown us all sorts of impediments which we do not necessarily attribute to personal decisions. One person who appears to embrace the truth may have unworthy motives (e.g. those in Constantine’s time who joined because Christianity was perceived as the State Church, which made for a political, not a faith decision), while another may reject the truth without subjective fault. And there is the issue of invincible ignorance. And what of those who are mentally impared?

Often the rejection of Lumen Gentium is out of a fear that this causes the Church to lose her importance. On the contrary, the Church is absolutely essential because it is the fountain of grace in the world, and the mystical point of departure for the Holy Spirit. Second, the Church is far and away the most sure means of salvation; nothing in the “could achieve salvation” means “should achieve salvation”.

Third, the Church is the most effective and complete means of drawing into union with God. Too often, the question is framed exclusively in terms of “salvation”; in reality, the primary focus of all true religion is to give glory to God.

As noted in the article, The Church is not about protecting our rights to superior pay as workers who have labored all day, or our role as self-satisfied sons watching the prodigals squander their inheritance. The Father goes out from His vineyard to issue His summons every hour, and rushes out to meet the prodigal before he reaches home. The Church is about glorifying God by helping as many souls as possible to draw into the closest possible union with Him. Sharing the Church is simply at the core of what it means to be in love with God.

Not necessarily. I reached a point during my spiritual journey where I realized that “Some day, I should become Catholic,” but I had all kinds of social and emotional reasons why I couldn’t do it just then - and I figured that God understood, until someone pretty much beat me over the head with this very concept - that, if you know the right thing, then you must do the right thing - you can’t wait for conditions to become perfect, because you may well be on your death bed by then, and who knows whether you will even be conscious, or able to talk.

I was also journeying with my grandmother through her last illness and death. It’s not like on TV where the people are talking lucidly right up until they die - for Grandma, the power of speech was the first thing to go, and she certainly never realized that the words she had spoken just before then were to have been her very last - would she have asked for a priest, and to convert to the Catholic faith, if she had known at that moment that she would never speak again for the rest of her life? There is no way to know.

But the other thing I learned during that journey is that dying is exactly like being sick - you think you are going to recover. You don’t actually know that this is the end.

But what of those who are aware that the Catholic Church claims to be Christ’s Church and yet discount this claim because they never had the “zeal” for Christ to actually look into it for who knows what reason? What if they are perfectly happy and content with a heresy such as “once saved always saved” and feel no need to go further or even to entertain the notion of “those Catholic claims”? Despite the ramifications of what such a heresy can to for this soul specifically - what of that rejection of the Truth for convenience sake? Somewhere in there culpability can pop up - even if they never got around to “being convinced” of the Catholic claims. Do you see what I mean?

Yes, I do. At some point, it’s entirely possible that they made a conscious choice to reject the Catholic Church, even if it’s true, just because it’s more comfortable to remain Protestant, or to get back at someone in the Catholic Church who offended them in some way. (Kind of like drinking poison in the hope that the other person will die.)

Another example - perhaps the whole notion of the Real Presense just “turns them off” - it “doesn’t make sense” to them and they go on there way, never having given this crazy concept a second thought. I mean there’s a fine line in there between invincible ignorance and willful rejection. The line itself has eternal consequences, no?

Also, to think that the sin of holding to heresy can only apply to those who are totally convinced that the heresy they hold to actually is heresy, well, that just isn’t logical to me.

I remember when I came to awareness that the beliefs I professed were heretical by the standards of the Catholic Church, and also becoming aware that the Catholic Church seemed to me to be the only Church that actually had any standards - I think that’s the point where my own ignorance became vincible - that is, I began to think about such things in an open-minded way. That was about six years before my actual conversion.

Somewhere in all of this, people are responsible for their response to the Gospel. All of it - not just part of it. And in essense, that means their response to the Church he founded - I just hope us in the Church are offering a clear and urgent invitation to Christ’s Church in the first place. But if we walk around saying that “most everybody” can be saved despite their beliefs and rejections - then it sort of makes conversion to Christ’s Church non-essential.

I agree with you completely.

Myself, I pretty much had to be bashed over the head (metaphorically speaking, of course) and be told that I was going straight to Hell, because I knew too much not to become Catholic. By the grace of God, I made a conscious decision not to take it as an insult, and decided to investigate the matter, to see whether it was true.

Three days later, I was booking an interview with a priest for RCIA. :slight_smile:

Then you have free lance ministers who seem to know their scriptures, but who understand them in ways totally foreign to the Catholic Church. I spoke with one recently, who has his own chapel, and he was courteous enough not to tell me as a Catholic that I was bound for hell. According to his thinking only eleven Jews ever made it into heaven, the eleven apostles because they knew Jesus. No other Jews could be saved because they either didn’t know Jesus or rejected him. That included Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses etc. No modern Jew or Muslim could get into heaven because they do not believe on Jesus. Muslims do not even believe in God, but in some god that Mohamet invented. Judas was not human, but Satan in disguise. Jesus died only for Christians and no one else. And unsaid, but I would bet he thought it,“Catholics are not Christians.”

There are not a few people who seeking God swallow this stuff and not knowing better continue to propagate it. Tell them the Catholic Church is the true Church founded by Christ and they laugh at you. Not only invincible ignorance, but almost total ignorance. Yet they love Jesus and want to follow him. The notion that the Catholic Church might be the one true Church is not even worthy of investigation because they already are confident that it is not.

Can anyone posting here convince me this man is bound for hell because he should know better? It would be a very hard sell.

Quite alright…

Ok, I’m a little confused. Here are the verses - putting a little extra verses here for context…Romans 2:14-16 For when the Gentiles, who have not the law, do by nature those things that are of the law; these having not the law are a law to themselves: Who shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness to them, and their thoughts between themselves accusing, or also defending one another, In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel. Here, I take it, Paul speaks of those who have not received the Gospel - they are judged by how they respond to God’s grace, and with that, how they respond to the Natural Law written in their hearts. This goes to implicit desire for Baptism and how one responds to the grace one is given…I’m not sure this applies to those to whom the Gospel has already been preached. At least in the context we are discussing.

Here’s the other…
Romans 3:26-30 Through the forbearance of God, for the shewing of his justice in this time; that he himself may be just, and the justifier of him, who is of the faith of Jesus Christ. Where is then thy boasting? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we account a man to be justified by faith, without the works of the law. Is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also. For it is one God, that justifieth circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Here, I take it, Paul is speaking of the salvation of non-Jews - he’s combating the notion that salvation in Jesus Christ is only offered to those who practice the Mosaic law. I’m not sure how this relates.

(Continued…)

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