Mixed faith marriage worries?


#1

Hi everyone, I'm new here and hope this is the right forum to post this question, apologies if not! :D I have been going out with my boyfriend for 2 years now and we have already talked about getting married, kids etc and plan to get engaged once he is finished college next year, however he is a (practicing though not overly religious) Catholic and I am a (non-denominational, agnostic?) Protestant. We both have traditional views with regard to marriage- we both want to be married in church, we are both waiting for marriage etc however although I love him very much I have some worries.

  1. Although I am a Protestant I have never really attended church (neither do my parents), he however attends Mass nearly every Sunday. For this reason you would expect I wouldn't mind getting married in a Catholic church as I never really attended a church anyway but no...for some reason I feel that we should involve both a priest and a minister in the ceremony somehow. Is this even possible? :confused:

  2. We both want children (quite a few actually :D) and he wants to raise them in the Catholic faith. He says it would please his family greatly but part of me says what about me? Does my faith and family traditions not matter? Even though again this does not make sense as I am not a church-going Protestant nor is most of my family. Another worry is that I do not intend to convert to Catholicism and he knows and accepts this but I'm worried that in the future he or the children will not understand this decision.

I feel very confused and a little concerned as we love each other very much but I keep thinking about these two things and how it might drive a wedge between us though I'm not sure how it would? My boyfriend will definitely not compromise on raising the children Catholic and sometimes I feel like I have accepted this whereas other times I have niggling doubts like I've said above.

I have offered to go with him to Mass as I am curious about the Catholic faith but he just laughs and says "Sure you wouldn't know what to do". :(

Does anyone have any advice or are in a mixed faith marriage themselves?


#2

[quote="lux_aeterna, post:1, topic:224045"]

  1. Although I am a Protestant I have never really attended church (neither do my parents), he however attends Mass nearly every Sunday. For this reason you would expect I wouldn't mind getting married in a Catholic church as I never really attended a church anyway but no...for some reason I feel that we should involve both a priest and a minister in the ceremony somehow. Is this even possible? :confused:

[/quote]

Yes - it is possible to have a minister present, but your boyfriend is required to marry in the Catholic Church unless he has permission from his Bishop to do otherwise. This is not negotiable.

  1. We both want children (quite a few actually :D) and he wants to raise them in the Catholic faith. He says it would please his family greatly but part of me says what about me? Does my faith and family traditions not matter? Even though again this does not make sense as I am not a church-going Protestant nor is most of my family. Another worry is that I do not intend to convert to Catholicism and he knows and accepts this but I'm worried that in the future he or the children will not understand this decision.

You will be required to state that you will raise the children in the Catholic Faith. This is not negotiable. Marriage and children has nothing to do with "what about me" - it is about the souls of those you love. Your role as parents and spouses is to get each other to heaven.

I feel very confused and a little concerned as we love each other very much but I keep thinking about these two things and how it might drive a wedge between us though I'm not sure how it would? My boyfriend will definitely not compromise on raising the children Catholic and sometimes I feel like I have accepted this whereas other times I have niggling doubts like I've said above.

This is extremely serious, and something you need to consider. This will not go away, and will only get more serious with time, and especially after the children come. It is his duty and responsibility to raise his children in the Catholic Faith.

I have offered to go with him to Mass as I am curious about the Catholic faith but he just laughs and says "Sure you wouldn't know what to do". :(

He does not sound very supportive of your desire to learn which is very sad an unfortunate. So then learn on our own. Read everything you can on this site about the Faith, ask questions, and have an open mind.

Does anyone have any advice or are in a mixed faith marriage themselves?

My advice is don't do it, though there are those here who will say otherwise. I personally do not feel that a mixed marriage is healthy for the children and can lead them away from the fullness of Truth in the Catholic Faith.

The most precious and priceless thing I have with my husband is our Faith. It far surpasses our love for one another. Nothing in this life will ever compare with kneeling beside him to receive Jesus Christ in the Eucharist during Holy Communion. Nothing.

~Liza


#3

Hi Liza, thanks for your reply.

You will be required to state that you will raise the children in the Catholic Faith. This is not negotiable. Marriage and children has nothing to do with "what about me" - it is about the souls of those you love. Your role as parents and spouses is to get each other to heaven.

I just realised i sounded very selfish in the way I worded my initial post whenn I said 'what about my faith' and didn't mean it to sound that way. I think I am worried about rejection from my future spouse and children, I had a long hard think there after reading your post and think this is the root issue the feeling of being 'different' and therefore not being accepted somehow. I am intrigued about the Catholic faith as I said before and do intend to take up your suggestion about finding out more as I want to understand more about it.

We do both believe in God and want to raise our children to be believe in Him also; should there not be a way to compromise with our belief in the same God without breaking up? :confused:


#4

[quote="lux_aeterna, post:1, topic:224045"]
Hi everyone, I'm new here and hope this is the right forum to post this question, apologies if not! :D I have been going out with my boyfriend for 2 years now and we have already talked about getting married, kids etc and plan to get engaged once he is finished college next year, however he is a (practicing though not overly religious) Catholic and I am a (non-denominational, agnostic?) Protestant. We both have traditional views with regard to marriage- we both want to be married in church, we are both waiting for marriage etc however although I love him very much I have some worries.

[/quote]

Good. You should be worried. Bringing children into the mix will likely only make him more religious, not less. People tend to become very introspective and return to the full practice of their faith when they have children. If he is already a practicing Catholic, he will only become "more" Catholic as he matures.

What, exactly, is an "agnostic Protestant." Do you not believe in God? Do you not believe Jesus is God? These are pretty big differences to be contemplating marriage to a Catholic.

[quote="lux_aeterna, post:1, topic:224045"]
some reason I feel that we should involve both a priest and a minister in the ceremony somehow. Is this even possible? :confused:

[/quote]

No. Canon law prohibits this.

You can get married in a Catholic Church with a priest presiding over the ceremony, or your fiance can request a dispensation from Catholic form to get married in your church (you say you don't have one, so that doesn't make sense) and your pastor can preside.

[quote="lux_aeterna, post:1, topic:224045"]

  1. We both want children (quite a few actually :D) and he wants to raise them in the Catholic faith. He says it would please his family greatly but part of me says what about me?

[/quote]

A Catholic is required to raise their children in the Catholic faith. This isn't optional.

[quote="lux_aeterna, post:1, topic:224045"]
Does my faith and family traditions not matter?

[/quote]

You just said you didn't have a faith tradition, and none of your family attended church.

Sounds to me you want to take your children and cut them in half out of some perception on your part about "fairness". King Solomon was wise, read the story of the baby two women fought over-- you cannot cut the baby in half, so to speak.

[quote="lux_aeterna, post:1, topic:224045"]
I feel very confused and a little concerned as we love each other very much but I keep thinking about these two things and how it might drive a wedge between us though I'm not sure how it would?

[/quote]

I think you should rethink marrying someone who does not believe the same way you do. Religion isn't like deciding what color to paint the kitchen-- it is at the core of your being. Religious beliefs are the foundation of the Christian home. I really don't see how you can plan to integrate your family life around this key element when you have such different beliefs.

Youth and optimism say "we can work it out, religion doens't really matter." Reality then sets in and you are left with a huge problem because religion DOES matter. When mixed marriages "work" it is often when the two people are not practicing their faiths. A non-practicing Catholic and a non-practicing Protestant can probably make it "work" because they just ignore both their faith traditions. But, practicing Catholics and practicing or non-practicing Protestants, sorry I think that's very unwise.

[quote="lux_aeterna, post:1, topic:224045"]
My boyfriend will definitely not compromise on raising the children Catholic and sometimes I feel like I have accepted this whereas other times I have niggling doubts like I've said above.

[/quote]

It's a requirement in order for him to receive permission to marry a non-Catholic. If you have agreed to it, you need to be prepared to follow through on that promise. It's a big promise to make.

[quote="lux_aeterna, post:1, topic:224045"]
I have offered to go with him to Mass as I am curious about the Catholic faith but he just laughs and says "Sure you wouldn't know what to do". :(

[/quote]

Well, that's rude of him. He should offer to help you. The Mass prayers and such are all in the missalette provided in the pews. Honestly, I find this statement most troubling of all that you've conveyed here. It seems he has contempt for your religious beliefs.

[quote="lux_aeterna, post:1, topic:224045"]
Does anyone have any advice or are in a mixed faith marriage themselves?

[/quote]

Mixed marriages are very difficult, and I personally do not believe that people should enter into them. the Church allows them because many people are stubborn and likely to go marry outside the Church anyway-- we often let our hearts lead us to places we should not go.

Again, you'll get anecdotal stories about how it "worked" for this person or that-- but typically that is when one spouse compromises significantly or in cases where neither are very serious about practicing their faith.

There's one gal that posts here who often posts on these types of threads. She's non-Catholic and her husband is Catholic. She always brags about how their marriage works great. Well, duh, he got married outside the Church in her church (no permissions to do so) and he stopped going to the Catholic Church and started going to her church and is going to let her raise the children Protestant. Yeah, I'd say it works great for her-- she's managed to totally kill his Catholic faith. Not exactly a great testament to a mixed marriage that "works" IMHO. It only works because he's basically left the Church.

So, it depends on your definition of "works."


#5

[quote="lizaanne, post:2, topic:224045"]
Yes - it is possible to have a minister present, but your boyfriend is required to marry in the Catholic Church unless he has permission from his Bishop to do otherwise. This is not negotiable.

[/quote]

Just to clarify, a protestant minister can be present and can do the same types of things a Catholic lay person can do-- read a reading, read the petitions, etc. The protestant minister cannot participate in the ceremony itself, receiving vows, saying blessings, etc. He cannot act in any capacity that the priest acts in.

If they choose to get a dispensation to marry in her faith tradition, the priest can be present and can act in a capacity similarly-- reading a reading, etc-- he may not receive the vows or preside the way the protestant minister does.


#6

[quote="lux_aeterna, post:3, topic:224045"]
I just realised i sounded very selfish in the way I worded my initial post whenn I said 'what about my faith' and didn't mean it to sound that way. I think I am worried about rejection from my future spouse and children,

[/quote]

You seem like a very thoughtful person. You are concerned about feeling like an outsider in your own home. I would have apprehension there too.

It is certainly possible for a non-Catholic to support their spouse in raising their children Catholic. People do it every day. But you have to make peace with that going in, and it seems you do still have some reservations about it.

[quote="lux_aeterna, post:3, topic:224045"]

I had a long hard think there after reading your post and think this is the root issue the feeling of being 'different' and therefore not being accepted somehow.

[/quote]

Your boyfriend's reluctance to take you to Mass with him is sort of weird. I would dig in to that more.

[quote="lux_aeterna, post:3, topic:224045"]
I am intrigued about the Catholic faith as I said before and do intend to take up your suggestion about finding out more as I want to understand more about it.

[/quote]

I'd encourage you to do that on your own. I have seen many girlfriends/boyfriends go to RCIA to inquire but then feel stifled when they have questions or find they don't want to be Catholic after all. I'd suggest you go without your boyfriend so you can be free to explore it in your own way and own pace.

[quote="lux_aeterna, post:3, topic:224045"]

We do both believe in God and want to raise our children to be believe in Him also; should there not be a way to compromise with our belief in the same God without breaking up? :confused:

[/quote]

No.

Look if you really believe the sky is blue and he really believes it's red, what are you going to teach your children?

On the surface you say "we both believe in God." Well dig in to that, and you will find you believe different things *about *God, *about *the Church, *about *what is right and what is wrong. And, many of these things are mutually exclusive.

The sky is either red or it's blue. One of you is right and one is wrong. You can't compromise and teach your kid it's purple-- sorta red and sorta blue.


#7

Hi 1ke, thanks for your insightful answers. You've certainly given me a lot to think about (King Solomon was a good analogy) and I have decided that I will research as much as I can about Catholicism and will certainly tackle the bf about going to Mass as I feel it is important especially in the future if we do get married and have children as planned as I would like to go with my husband and kids to Mass occasionally even if I remain a lapsed Protestant so to speak. I feel it would be important to show support in their faith and my husbands and not make them think it was somehow wrong to go to church because mom wasn't there.

What I define (whether rightly or wrongly) as an 'agnostic Protestant' is someone who was baptised into the Protestant faith and therefore belongs to the church but who does not go to that church or any other but who does believe in God and that Jesus is His son. So I do have a church though I have never been apart from when I was baptised. Hope I answered your question :)

As you say I must make a choice of red or blue rather than purple and as I see a future with my bf it will have to be red :)


#8

[quote="1ke, post:5, topic:224045"]
Just to clarify, a protestant minister can be present and can do the same types of things a Catholic lay person can do-- read a reading, read the petitions, etc. The protestant minister cannot participate in the ceremony itself, receiving vows, saying blessings, etc. He cannot act in any capacity that the priest acts in.

If they choose to get a dispensation to marry in her faith tradition, the priest can be present and can act in a capacity similarly-- reading a reading, etc-- he may not receive the vows or preside the way the protestant minister does.

[/quote]

Thanks for the clarification, after I posted that I considered that I was not clear enough in why I was trying to say. ;)

~Liza


#9

Just to say thank you to both of you, you both gave great detailed answers :).


#10

[quote="lux_aeterna, post:7, topic:224045"]
Hi 1ke, thanks for your insightful answers. You've certainly given me a lot to think about (King Solomon was a good analogy) and I have decided that I will research as much as I can about Catholicism and will certainly tackle the bf about going to Mass as I feel it is important especially in the future if we do get married and have children as planned as I would like to go with my husband and kids to Mass occasionally even if I remain a lapsed Protestant so to speak. I feel it would be important to show support in their faith and my husbands and not make them think it was somehow wrong to go to church because mom wasn't there.

What I define (whether rightly or wrongly) as an 'agnostic Protestant' is someone who was baptised into the Protestant faith and therefore belongs to the church but who does not go to that church or any other but who does believe in God and that Jesus is His son. So I do have a church though I have never been apart from when I was baptised. Hope I answered your question :)

As you say I must make a choice of red or blue rather than purple and as I see a future with my bf it will have to be red :)

[/quote]

I'm glad you two are talking and thinking about these issues BEFORE you marry and bring children into the world. You see that even though you haven't gone to church, you DO have beliefs and you DO have concerns. Those will only get stronger once you have children. Sometimes, like in my case, a person can be away from the church of their youth for a long time, not even consider themselves a member of that faith, and then when the miracle of a baby arrives, they open their eyes and God is in full view and He beckons them back...

We do tell Catholics not to date outside the faith. That may seem harsh but you are already experiencing the reasons why we don't support inter-faith marriages. It is IMPOSSIBLE for this marriage to have the kind of unity that creates a solid foundation. Even if neither person attends church services, the base of belief would be the same if you were to marry a Protestant. There would be things you could take for granted, if your fiance' were of the same faith. And if you go on with this relationship, there are many things that you CANNOT take for granted. Have you talked to your boyfriend about not using any form of artificial birth control? Catholics are required to be open to the creation of life except by using natural family planning. How do you feel about that? Contraception is a huge thing for Catholics.

As I said, I am glad that you are not brushing these questions and differences aside, and pretending that all will be well once you take those vows and have that pretty ring on your finger.

Please feel free to use this website (you don't need MY permission!) to explore more about the Catholic faith. It's a very helpful tool, so much knowledge available at your fingertips! Your BF should have encouraged you to come to Mass with him (and helped you know what to do and when to do it). You might just "catch" the faith and want to go further! (only half-joking...)

:)

p.s. Agnostics believe in something, they just don't know what to believe in. If you're a Christian, you're not an agnostic.


#11

Hi TheRealJuliane, thanks for your reply :)

p.s. Agnostics believe in something, they just don't know what to believe in. If you're a Christian, you're not an agnostic.

I believe I'm a Christian then...thanks for correcting me! :blush: We have actually talked about contraception already and have agreed not to use artificial birth control-we have no issues with this. I'm 100% happy with that :)

P.S. I was actually talking to my boyfriend earlier and brought up the going to Mass with him scenario again and said the reason he said that before was because he thought he'd be 'dragging' me and says he'd love for me to go. So progress on that front! Maybe I will end up 'catching the faith' (half-joking aswell!)


#12

[quote="lux_aeterna, post:1, topic:224045"]
Hi everyone, I'm new here and hope this is the right forum to post this question, apologies if not! :D I have been going out with my boyfriend for 2 years now and we have already talked about getting married, kids etc and plan to get engaged once he is finished college next year, however he is a (practicing though not overly religious) Catholic and I am a (non-denominational, agnostic?) Protestant. We both have traditional views with regard to marriage- we both want to be married in church, we are both waiting for marriage etc however although I love him very much I have some worries.

  1. Although I am a Protestant I have never really attended church (neither do my parents), he however attends Mass nearly every Sunday. For this reason you would expect I wouldn't mind getting married in a Catholic church as I never really attended a church anyway but no...for some reason I feel that we should involve both a priest and a minister in the ceremony somehow. Is this even possible? :confused:

No, the Sacrament of Matrimony cannot be celebrated in tandum with a protestant or non-denominational minister.

[quote="lux_aeterna, post:1, topic:224045"]
I feel very confused and a little concerned as we love each other very much but I keep thinking about these two things and how it might drive a wedge between us though I'm not sure how it would? My boyfriend will definitely not compromise on raising the children Catholic and sometimes I feel like I have accepted this whereas other times I have niggling doubts like I've said above.

Your doubts are well founded, because this is one of the more frequently stated issues that arise in this forum. Often the non-religious, non-converting parent finds stirrings of faith they didn't realize they felt previously once children come into the marriage. Not saying this is you, but just that it occurs more than you would think.

[/quote]

[quote="lux_aeterna, post:1, topic:224045"]
I have offered to go with him to Mass as I am curious about the Catholic faith but he just laughs and says "Sure you wouldn't know what to do". :(

It seems to me that most Catholics would welcome, in fact be deleriously happy, if their fiance said they would like to know more about the faith. If you are going to agree to raising your children in the Catholic faith you need to know what your signing up for.

[/quote]

[quote="lux_aeterna, post:1, topic:224045"]
Does anyone have any advice or are in a mixed faith marriage themselves?

[/quote]

As said above, mixed faith marriages statistically have more problems than if both are of the same faith. OK, so work harder.
[/quote]


#13

Hello!

I'm an atheist and my wife is Catholic. We just recently got married and are now expecting our first child, due in August. We were married in the church and went through the dispensation and everything. We have spoken about how we are going to raise our children, and I have no problem raising them Catholic but I want them to choose if they want to be confirmed or not. We are still discussing our options, and I think the best advice I can give to you is to sit down with your boyfriend and discuss these inter-faith issues seriously. If he does not know about your concerns there will be no progress.

Also, you must understand that there WILL be compromises - there are some things that you may have to give up to make things work. Ever since I lost my faith I had always wanted my uncle to marry my significant other and myself in a non-religious ceremony. I married in the church because I understood how important it was to my wife and her family. Focus on the issues that are really important to you and also to him - such as where you will be married. Discuss your options and try to find the solution that works best for both of you. Sometimes he may have to give something up, and sometimes you will - it's just the nature of the beast.


#14

"You will be required to state that you will raise the children in the Catholic Faith. This is not negotiable. Marriage and children has nothing to do with "what about me" - it is about the souls of those you love. Your role as parents and spouses is to get each other to heaven."

— This is not totally true. If you feel raising the children solely as Catholic would be a serious issue, make your opinion and feelings known. The Catholic has to do all in their "power" to do so. What this means depends on what priest you ask.


#15

I am in an interfaith relationship and have been dating my boyfriend, who is Jewish, for almost four years. From someone who has first-hand experience in this: Interfaith relationships do NOT work. Consider how you will raise your future children. Thinking that raising them in both faiths may sound appealing and even possible. But once you get into the nitty-gritty details, it isn't as easy. A family needs unity. One of you will need to bend, and the other will need to back and support the other 100%.

If you feel like you want to dig into the Catholic faith, then absolutely do so! But do not ever expect your boyfriend to convert to Protestantism. You will need to accept him for who he is and what he wants. Figure out what you believe, too, because he should never ever expect you to change.

I feel for you because I am traveling a similar road. Feel free to PM me if you ever want to talk about it.


#16

[quote="BumpiestBread, post:13, topic:224045"]
and I have no problem raising them Catholic but I want them to choose if they want to be confirmed or not.

[/quote]

This statement indicates you do have a problem raising them Catholic. Maybe you don't understand what Confirmation is. Confirmation is a completion of Baptism. If you are willing to have your child baptized, you should have no problem with confirmation.

Many people think confirmation is some sort of "choice" to be Catholic. This is simply not true.

One is Catholic by virtue of baptism. In Confirmation, it is the bishop who does the confirming. What he is confirming is the Baptism. The confirmandii (person being confirmed) isn't confirming anything or choosing anything.

Catholics are obligated to be confirmed. It's not optional.


#17

[quote="BumpiestBread, post:13, topic:224045"]

Sometimes he may have to give something up, and sometimes you will - it's just the nature of the beast.

[/quote]

And therein lies the issue. Asking him to give up any part of his Faith is asking to compromise on what he believes. How in the world can anyone ask this of another person when their eternal soul is what is at stake? So what does he give up? Going to Mass every Sunday? Taking the children to Mass? I'm sorry, but these things are non-negotiable. Yes, marriage does require compromise. But when it comes to how we live and practice our Faith there should never be a compromise, the couple should live their Faith together (as two will become one) so they can mutually help one another get to heaven.

[quote="Lutheranteach, post:14, topic:224045"]
"You will be required to state that you will raise the children in the Catholic Faith. This is not negotiable. Marriage and children has nothing to do with "what about me" - it is about the souls of those you love. Your role as parents and spouses is to get each other to heaven."

— This is not totally true. If you feel raising the children solely as Catholic would be a serious issue, make your opinion and feelings known. The Catholic has to do all in their "power" to do so. What this means depends on what priest you ask.

[/quote]

So - are you suggesting they "priest shop" to find one who will accommodate their compromise? That is horrific. If she marries a Catholic she will be required to state that she will raise the children Catholic. I've been through this myself, I was previously engaged to a Protestant and he was required to sign a document in front of the priest stating he would do this. To suggest that this is somehow negotiable for them is to give them poor advice. A Catholic parent is responsible for the Faith formation of their child in the home. That is a serious responsibility, and one that should not be taken lightly, nor with a sense of compromise.

~Liza


#18

[quote="1ke, post:16, topic:224045"]
This statement indicates you do have a problem raising them Catholic. Maybe you don't understand what Confirmation is. Confirmation is a completion of Baptism. If you are willing to have your child baptized, you should have no problem with confirmation.

Many people think confirmation is some sort of "choice" to be Catholic. This is simply not true.

One is Catholic by virtue of baptism. In Confirmation, it is the bishop who does the confirming. What he is confirming is the Baptism. The confirmandii (person being confirmed) isn't confirming anything or choosing anything.

Catholics are obligated to be confirmed. It's not optional.

[/quote]

I was under the impression that it was similar to the confirmation that I had the choice to go through as a child. I was baptized as an infant and around 6th or 7th grade I started going to weekly 'study' classes at the church where the pastor and other members of the congregation would teach us what it means to be a member of the church, etc. I chose not to continue because I did not believe in any of it.

I have spoken with my wife about the subject but since I thought it was the same thing as what I went through I told her I knew what it meant so she didn't go into any detail. I'll have to look into it, but thanks for correcting me!

Any specific resources you could point me toward regarding confirmation?


#19

Hi lux, welcome.

I teach CCD and our religous education director is married to a Baptist Minister. He has managed to work it out with her. So mixed marriages can work.

What I'm picking up from your tone, and forgive me if I'm wrong, is as much the fear that you're simply giving in or being dragged along on what is a major issue that you don't have strong feelings about now. You seem to be wondering if you're caving on something important with no assurance down the road that he'll meet you half way on things that are important to you.

You don't want to agree to things now and then go back on your word, or feel resentment later. That you were taken advantage of, or were just too agreeable. So, really talk this through together. Marriage is teamwork, and a large part of that is being in sync on how you'll raise your kids. You do have to make sure, before you get married, that you will be 100% on board with raising them Catholic, because you will each have to support each other in making it happen. Just as he'll have to support you in decisions on discipline, kid's activities, etc.

Please learn about the Catholic faith, but if you convert, obviously it must be for your own reasons. I would recommend you read,

'Surprised by Truth' Pat Madrid. It's the stories of various converts to Catholicism who give their reasons.

There are many wonderful people in this world. So, logically, there are many that are just not right for you to marry. He may be one of them, and it is better to make that decision now than a few years and children in the future.


#20

No, I'm not suggesting they "priest shop." I'm suggesting that there is a lot of gray to this question and what shade they receive is going to be dependent on whom they ask. Will a priest tell a Catholic in a mixed marriage they should divorce if their spouse so much as explains their non-Catholic faith to the children? I would think it's not likely. At the same time I am sure more is expected than taking the children to mass once and saying "I tried, they didn't like it."


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