Posts Tagged ‘Bishop Loverde’


By: Bishop Paul S. Loverde

Each year on March 19, Catholics throughout the world interrupt the austerities of Lent to celebrate the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, patron of fathers and of the universal Church. Coming as I do from a Sicilian family, this feast has always carried a special significance. My father was not unlike St. Joseph insofar as he sacrificed mightily for his family. A man of deep and quiet faith, he showed me what it means to be a man.

My father could not have imagined the challenges involved in protecting a family from today’s relentless assault of pornographic material. It has truly become mainstream, nearly impossible to avoid even by the most cautious. This pornographic culture stems from, and feeds back into, an extremely distorted view of human sexuality. We are deeply confused about things my father’s generation would have taken entirely for granted, and the results of that confusion are everywhere evident.

When I was ordained a priest in 1965, two in ten marriages ended in divorce; that rate has more than doubled. Abortion then was illegal; today over a million babies are aborted annually in this country alone. Back then fewer than 300,000 Americans were incarcerated; now one in thirty-one adult Americans is in prison or on probation.

As a young priest in the 1970s, I served for a decade in campus ministry settings. In those years, the first fruits of the sexual revolution were already apparent. Pope Francis’s image of the Church as a “field hospital” in the midst of such wreckage would describe it well.

Today’s “field hospital” must aggressively treat the vicious cancer of pornography, which lies at the heart of our societal ills. “Unchastity,” wrote Joseph Pieper in The Four Cardinal Virtues, “begets a blindness of spirit which practically excludes all understanding of the goods of the spirit; unchastity splits the power of decision.” Over the years I have witnessed the nature and effects of pornography’s splitting powers in our families and communities.

Nearly eight years ago I wrote a pastoral letter on the subject, Bought with a Price, a new edition of which is being released today. The pornography epidemic is something to which all people of good will must devote more attention and talk about more openly, but first we need to understand something of the scope and character of the problem.

Those who deny that the act of viewing pornography has any negative consequences must understand just how toxic the situation has become. It may be that a man now in his forties, say, remembers being a curious adolescent, stealing glances at a magazine in a neighbor’s home or in the aisle of a convenience store. As morally problematic and harmful as that act surely is, such behavior was arguably slow to become habitual and the physiological and psychological consequences were infrequently severe. That experience is far removed from what young people face today.

The most graphic forms of pornography are now easily and anonymously accessible on the internet and on any smartphone. Many among us are now caught in patterns of addiction that rival those of drugs and alcohol in their grip on the individual, if not in the disruption that results in their lives. Depression, anxiety, isolation, marital strife, and job loss can all be intensified for those caught in the web of this addiction.

More subtly, though, current research underscores what we are hearing in the classrooms, counseling sessions, and in the confessional: This addiction is not merely behavioral, a bad habit that can be broken like any other. Chronic viewing of pornographic material impacts one’s brain chemistry in a manner that can “hook” a person and lead to a quest for increasingly lurid forms of pornography. Over time, more and more is needed to produce the same effect. The brains of habitual users of pornography are strikingly similar to those of alcoholics, and the part of the brain involved in moral and ethical decision-making is weakened by viewing pornography. Once brain chemistry is remapped, it becomes very difficult for one to “reset” to a sense of normality in the future. Any man can tell you that these images are often very hard to forget.

While the suffering experienced by the addict cannot be overstated, we must recognize that there is also social harm. As a pastor, I have seen how damaging this shift continues to be in family life, courtship, and marriage preparation. One of my great concerns is the impact this plague is having on children. What is their future if their parents’ marriage is destroyed by this type of infidelity, or if they themselves are exposed to such toxic material long before they are able to experience the joy of true love and romance? Even the smallest child today often has easy access to a parent’s or sibling’s smartphone and is surrounded by screens.

When my pastoral letter on pornography was first issued, a high school student in my diocese wrote that “if a person knew that after viewing pornography he would be a bad example for his kids, would objectify his spouse and friends, and lastly destroy his relationship and vision of God, he would not do it.”

Just as some drugs are described as “gateways” to more serious substance abuse, a young person who experiences lust disconnected from an actual human person is at tremendous risk for failing ever to understand the beauty of God’s gift of human sexuality. Is not the so-called “hook-up” culture evidence of this? In addition, while it is certainly not the outcome for all who become involved with pornography, might it not be reasonable to posit that the dramatic rise in human sex trafficking is partly fueled by a pornographic culture?

And yet, despite all this, there is hope. Both scientists and believers are sounding the alarm. We know much more about the physiological aspects of this addiction and how best to reverse them. Behavioral change is possible, though this is not simply a question of behavior.

This is not a problem a person can solve on their own. Alongside the central commitment to prayer, the communal element of the recovery process needs to be given special emphasis. Very often, a key factor in one’s descent into pornography addiction is a lack of affirmation, acceptance, and trust in one’s relationships. An important part of the ascent, then, can also be the sharing of this struggle with others, allowing their love and concern to aid in the healing. As Pope Francis has said, “No one is saved alone, as an isolated individual, but God attracts us looking at the complex web of relationships that take place in the human community.”

Pornography thrives in the shadowy silence of isolation, but the warm light of love and friendship can do much to help cast it out. Women certainly have a critical role in this fight and should take a stance of absolute intolerance toward pornography, but in a particular way men need to be recalled to their God-given role as protectors of their families and of society if we are to overcome it.

A man in one of my parishes told me that Bought with a Price woke him up to the many ways in which his pornography use affected him as a father and husband. “I now understand,” he wrote, “that the true character of a man is shown in how he acts when nobody is watching.”

That is a lesson that St. Joseph, whom we honor today, knew well. Let the battle for purity begin.

Paul S. Loverde is bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Virginia. A new edition of his pastoral letter on pornography, Bought with a Price, is available at Amazon for Kindle and at www.arlingtondiocese.org/purity.

This article first appeared in First Things. View it here.

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By: Natalie Plumb

If she hadn’t agreed to write her column in advance on “Bought with a Price,” Arlington Catholic Herald columnist Elizabeth Foss likely would not have read its contents. But what she discovered when she took on the task was that Bishop Loverde has much more to offer than a pointing finger.

You can order your own copy of “Bought with a Price” through the diocesan website or Amazon Kindle.

This column originally appeared in the Arlington Catholic Herald.

By: Elizabeth Foss, Catholic Herald Columnist

Shortly before this column was due, I received a note from the Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde’s office explaining that he was planning to reissue his 2006 pastoral letter, “Bought with a Price.” The note went on to say that I might recall that letter and that this reissued letter was updated and full of practical suggestions, a study guide and a plan of life. It was destined to be a great resource for families. Attached for my convenience was an early copy in case I was able to write a column for the first week it was released.

BWAPcollage2Sure! A great resource for families, something new for me to read, a good reason to get a little extension on the column deadline so I could work over the weekend, all lined up to agree that I’d be happy to write on the bishop’s topic of choice. I didn’t recall the 2006 letter at all, but that didn’t deter me. I’d planned to write about a Lenten plan for families. This should work with that, right? The note said it’s a great resource for families.

I never looked to see what the pastoral letter addressed. I agreed to write about it without ever opening the 80-page PDF to see the subject. As I committed my weekend to it, I didn’t even know it was 80 pages.

It’s about pornography. I’ll admit right here that I would not have read this letter if I hadn’t promised to do so, sight unseen. Who wants to sit in her car during the only bright sunshine of the week, in the parking lot of the soccer field during warm-ups, and read what a celibate man has to say about porn?

You do. I did. This letter is so well-written, so worth reading. I started by cutting and pasting quote-worthy passages onto a blank document. Before I’d finished, I had more than a thousand words of quotes. I thought about just mailing those in and calling it a weekend. It didn’t take me long to recognize that instead, I need to persuade you, dear reader, to just read the whole thing.

Click here to continue reading this Arlington Catholic Herald column.

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By: Caitlin Bootsma
immigration-nologo-2In this past weekend’s edition of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Bishops Loverde and DiLorenzo (of Richmond), tackled the complex issue of federal immigration policy in an op-ed. In the letter, they address the need for comprehensive immigration reform so that each immigrant is treated with respect and dignity. The op-ed is worth reading in its entirety, but here are a few highlights.
On why people immigrate to the USA:
“Around the globe, people yearn for better lives, a chance to escape poverty, jobs to feed their families, reunion with their kin or life in a country free of war. As it always has, America symbolizes the hope of a better life.”
The current conditions of undocumented workers as a result of an unsound immigration system:
“Thus, socially isolated and vulnerable to exploitation, these strangers among us are more likely to work for an unjust wage, less likely to become involved in their communities, or more reluctant to report crimes because they fear their immigration status will be detected.”
On the effect of immigration reform:
“Immigration reform will strengthen Virginia socially and economically. Immigrants, both documented and undocumented, contribute to our economy by purchasing goods and services and increasing state revenues through sales and income taxes.”
What sort of immigration reform do the bishops support?
“Together with our brother Catholic bishops throughout the country, we seek immigration reform measures that provide an earned path to citizenship; maintain the family as the cornerstone of our immigration system; restore due process to immigration enforcement policies; provide paths for low-skilled workers to enter the U.S.; and address the root causes of migration. We believe this can be accomplished while ensuring appropriate levels of border security and with proper respect for the rule of law.”
Read the rest of the letter here.

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By: Sr. Clare Hunter

Charlie is 18 months old. He likes to make dog noises, chatter during homilies and give high fives. Charlie giving high fives is much cuter and appropriate than a “relatively young” nun giving them. So, I’ll let Charlie give them – and I’ll write about who deserves them.

CharlieKids like Charlie bring such a powerful presence to the monthly Respect Life Masses and praying of the rosary outside an abortion facility. Those kids become the icon of what we are there to do – to honor the life of children, born and unborn. Each month, Bishop Loverde travels to a parish to celebrate a Saturday Mass for the intention of increasing respect for human life. Following Mass, he goes to a nearby abortion facility to pray the rosary. I have yet to hear of another bishop in our country who does this each month. Charlie would high five Bishop Loverde for his tireless witness to being a Bishop of Life!

Last Saturday, May 18th, hundreds attended the Respect Life Mass at St. John the Apostle Church in Leesburg. I’ll admit the pastor, Fr. Mosimann, was pretty relentless as well as patient as we tried to schedule a Mass in their parish. He is good! The gathering was most impressive – the largest we have ever had, and the desire to be united as a parish to pray for an end to abortion and the dignity of human life was inspiring. High fives from Charlie to Fr. Mosimann and the parishioners of St. John the Apostle!

Each month, it is a powerful experience to pray outside of an abortion facility on a Saturday morning. Often there is a baby or toddler present with their parents and it is sobering and emotional to know that inside that building, the lives of many babies have and will end that day. As there aren’t abortion facilities in Leesburg, we had arranged to pray at the cemetery in the area reserved for infants as a way of remembering the sanctity of all human life, from the time of conception. Due to rain, we remained in the church. Situated in the back, I had a great view of the families praying together; moms and dads helping youngsters hold their beads in the right spot. I saw a community, young and not so young, down on their knees, asking Our Blessed Mother to help mothers and fathers say yes to life. Rosaries and prayer booklets were handed out by members of a strong and active parish Respect Life Committee. High five team for all you do!

Following Mass and the rosary, Bishop Loverde traveled to 1st Choice Women’s Health Center, a crisis pregnancy center, to bless a new ultrasound machine to be used as they work with women who are in need of assistance in many areas. This machine was purchased through the Knights of Columbus Ultrasound Program as Knights from six parishes joined to raise enough monies for three ultrasound machines. I was bursting with pride and admiration as I witnessed Bishop Loverde bless the machine with pastors from the parishes looking on, side-by-side with the Knights of Columbus and staff from the Center. This is what it is all about! I don’t know where the Pro-life movement would be without the Knights of Columbus! High fives go out to the parishes of St. John the Apostle, St. Joseph, St. Theresa, St. Francis de Sales, Corpus Christi and Our Lady of Hope. Extra high fives (high tens?) to the Knights of Columbus and their state chaplain Bishop Loverde!

But more than all of these acts that deserve high fives from Charlie – I pray in deep gratitude for the gift of witnessing such dedication to protecting and upholding human life. May God bless all gathered together in prayer and action last Saturday!

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By: Caitlin Bootsma

Sometimes I think that I’ve been working for the Diocese of Arlington central offices for quite a while – after all, five years is a pretty respectable run, right? However, as we celebrate Bishop Loverde’s 25th anniversary as a bishop, I admit that my years of working for the Church pales in comparison to Bishop Loverde’s commitment and love for the flock he shepherds.
I can honestly say that so much of the reason that the Chancery staff is blessed to work here is because of Bishop Loverde’s leadership. Not only, as the Herald outlines in their comprehensive anniversary issue, has he led us in so many areas, including multicultural ministry, pro-life ministry, evangelization and vocations, he is also a personal example of holiness and love for the Lord.
Bishop Loverde often talks about discipleship, about a personal encounter with God. I see this personal discipleship in my interactions with him. At the beginning of each one of our meetings, he sincerely takes a moment to bow his head and thank the Lord, always remembering to pray for the intercession of the patron saint of my office. When he discusses ideas for pastoral letters or Arlington Herald columns, one can see that this is not just work to complete, but an opportunity for him to share the faith that is so central to his life. One cannot help but be hopeful for our Church when he talks with great enthusiasm about the faith of young people he has confirmed or the seminarians he has visited.

My family with Bishop Loverde at my son's baptism (photo credit: Stacy Rausch)

My family with Bishop Loverde at my son’s baptism (photo credit: Stacy Rausch)

During my time here, I have come to a deeper appreciation of all of the responsibilities of being a bishop. Bishop Loverde so evidently carries in his heart all of the people in the diocese, constantly striving to “encourage and teach with patience” (his episcopal motto).
I am encouraged the most by the example he sets. I often say that there is no way that I could keep up with the schedule he follows – the Holy Spirit must be with him! He travels throughout the diocese, works into the evenings, and still finds time to dedicate to prayer and to greeting each one of us individually, always remembering what is going on in our lives.
On this 25
th episcopal anniversary, I thank God for the shepherd he chose to give the Diocese of Arlington, which He chose to give me. Celebrate by praying for Bishop Loverde, that he may continue to humbly serve and to courageously lead as our shepherd.

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By: Caitlin Bootsma

It’s a week into January. Have you made your resolutions yet? If so, have you kept them so far? To be honest, I can’t even remember the resolutions I made last year. I’m pretty sure there were health and financial components to them. I’m sure I made some progress on them, but they certainly weren’t permanent resolutions.

Bishop Loverde addresses us, at the beginning of this new calendar year, about our call to make permanent commitments — permanent gifts of self. While not dismissing the need to become healthier, save money, etc., Bishop Loverde reminds us that we were created to be a gift.
Man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself” – Gaudium et Spes
How are you called to be a gift in 2013?

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Last Fall, on the Feast of Christ the King, as a diocese we dedicated ourselves to the Heart of Christ. Since that time, I have seen images of the Sacred Heart of Jesus displayed in Chancery offices, in parishes and in parishioners’ homes. Hopefully, this consecration was just the beginning of an opportunity to love Christ more fully and to ask Him for His mercy and love in our lives.

This Fall, Pope Benedict has asked us to begin celebrating a Year of Faith, an opportunity to renew our relationship with Christ. Here in our diocese, we’ve been preparing for this Year of Faith by focusing on a love for God that is foundational for growing in our faith.

In his pastoral letter, Fountain of Life, Fire of Love, Bishop Loverde urges us to examine why it is that we long for love. He writes, “There is a deep longing in the human heart for enduring love, and because God is love (cf. 1 Jn 4:8), this deep longing is really a longing for God. God alone can ultimately fulfill this longing of the human heart because He Himself created us with this innermost desire for Him, although so often we do not consciously realize its true source.”

Perhaps it has been awhile since you prayed to the Heart of Christ or remembered the Act of Consecration we made last year. Here are just a few suggestions for ways we can strengthen our relationship with the Heart of Christ before entering into the Year of Faith this Fall:

  • Read or re-read Bishop Loverde’s pastoral letter. His devotion to the Heart of Christ and explanation of the Sacred Heart and Divine Mercy is not only informative, it helps us enter more fully into prayer.
  • Pray to the Heart of Christ. Ask for His mercy and His love throughout the day. These prayers can be as simple as saying “Sacred of Jesus, have mercy on me” or “help me to love You more”
  • Enthrone an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in your home. You can find a ceremony here. This image will be a physical reminder for you and your family/housemates of Christ’s presence in your life.

Consider strengthening your love for the Heart of Christ this month. As Bishop Loverde wrote in a column last fall, “Too often we forget that the Lord loves us so much that He is with us constantly, listening to our prayers and providing us the grace to live lives of authentic holiness.”

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Have Mercy on Us.

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By: Bishop Paul S. Loverde

Upon returning from my second visit to the diocesan sponsored missions in the Dominican Republic, I have been reflecting on what a mutual blessing these missions are for our diocese as well as for the people of the Banica and Pedro Santana parishes.

Bishop Loverde with diocesan priests and Dominicans

Banica and Pedro Santana are  rural communities located in the Dominican Republic on the border with Haiti. Fr. O’Hare, the current pastor of Banica and Pedro Santana, compared these extraordinary places to Nazareth, all three out of the way locations that people perhaps doubted would produce much fruit (recall the words of Nathaniel: “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (John 1:43). Yet, Banica and Pedro Santana, like Nazareth where Christ was born, have produced a great many fruits.

My visit to both parishes last week was in recognition of the twenty year relationship between the Diocese of San Juan de la Manguana and the Diocese of Arlington. Accompanying me were three of the diocesan priests who had served there over the years (as well as Fr. Hanley and Mike Flach, the editor of the Arlington Catholic Herald). I was touched by the great love and admiration that the people had for their former priests. I was moved as well by the simple and profound faith of the people. They are impoverished materially, but have a rich spirit of inner joy and a communal spirit, ready always to assist one another.

Much has been accomplished through the rewarding relationship between our two dioceses. One physical manifestation of this is the new chapel at Sabana Cruz, which was a gift of donors from our diocese. Also, the Catholic community in each parish, with support from diocesan priests and volunteers, demonstrates its spiritual strength through its many altar servers as well as programs such as Bible studies for adults and young boys and girls. I had the opportunity to meet with college-aged men and women from these parishes who have chosen to serve the youth in their community, instructing them in the faith, while at the same time maintaining their studies and prayer lives.

I was inspired by the spirit of those living there as well as the challenges the priests and the missionaries (including three Brazilian sisters as well as lay people) encounter daily. For example, their outreach to those who lived out in the campos requires travels of up to five hours or more on a regular basis over rough roads, mainly unpaved with ruts. Yet, despite the difficulties, there is a joy that heartened me throughout my time there.

I certainly returned home exhausted by the rigors of the schedule, the unfamiliar and rustic setting and the effort it takes continually to speak a foreign language. Inwardly, however, I rejoice and am reinvigorated by the exhilarating growth in these people in the Dominican Republic. The people there remain in my heart and I urge each of you to continue to pray for our Dominican brothers and sisters as well as for the priests and missionaries present there.

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By: Bishop Paul S. Loverde

After traveling the winding roads to Winchester, I stepped out of my car and into Millbrook High School to see hundreds of tired teenagers, with joyful smiles, socializing in the school hallways. It warmed my heart as they greeted me, their enthusiasm and good nature shining through their faces, their camaraderie with each other apparent and inspiring.

This past week was the first session of the annual WorkCamp, where teenagers and adult supervisors from our diocese dedicate their time and talents to help make local homes safer, drier and warmer for residents in need by performing home repairs. I was blessed to spend Tuesday evening and part of Wednesday with the participants of this program, which is run by the diocesan Office of Youth Ministry.

Bishop Loverde serves up a spoonful of peas to a hungry WorkCamper.

We began Tuesday evening with dinner, where I was privileged to spend some time in the kitchen serving peas in the cafeteria line to the workers after their hot day in the sun. It made me smile that a fair number of the teens told me, with laughter, “Peas be with you, Bishop!”

After sharing the meal, we began an evening of prayer, Confession and Benediction. After some singing, I spoke to the young people emphasizing how much the Lord Jesus loves each of them and urging them to develop and deepen a personal relationship with Jesus Christ within the community of His disciples, the Church.  After a long day of hard work, the teens’ enthusiasm had not lessened – rather, when the availability of the Sacrament of Penance was announced, many of the young people jumped enthusiastically to their feet to stand in line. My brother priests had also traveled from all around the diocese to spend an evening ministering with me to the teens.

WorkCamp teens put the finishing touches on a back porch.

I was moved to see the devotion to Our Lord in the Eucharist through their prayer and song. It brought to my mind once again that WorkCamp is so much more than just a week of service; it is an opportunity for young people to come before Our Lord, growing closer to Him and stronger in their lives through the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Penance. They are also given direction and encouragement from speakers and mentors on how to live the spiritual life in the natural world, in particular, by offering a gift of self through acts of service, thereby putting Faith into action

How refreshing to see joy clearly stamped on their faces, whether the young people were eating peas, receiving forgiveness in the Sacrament of Penance, or pounding nails with hammers at their worksites on Wednesday morning. I visited several homes where crews were busy adding improvements, painting and cleaning up yards. Their happiness and smiles were contagious; the way they conducted themselves brings to mind a Psalm verse: “They will rejoice before God; they will celebrate with great joy” (Psalms 68:4b).

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By: Caitlin Forst, Interim Director of Communications

The Diocese of Arlington believes deeply in the dignity of each person and opposes all forms of abuse. Nearly a decade ago, following the clergy abuse crisis, Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde made the prevention of child sexual abuse and the healing of those harmed a priority. He not only established diocesan-wide prevention programs and services for victims of clergy sexual abuse, as required under the United States bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, but he opened an office to assist all victims of sexual abuse, regardless of by whom they were abused.

More than 330 individuals who have suffered abuse by family, friends, clergy and others have received help from the Office of Victim Assistance, currently staffed by two social workers, since 2003.

Since 2004, hundreds have participated in special Masses and events through

  • 30 Healing Masses celebrated by Bishop Loverde, attended by 2250 people in total.
  • 20 prayer services held by Fr. Mealey, Vicar General
  • 20 Support Group evenings of fellowship and prayer, hosted by Bishop Loverde and/or Fr. Mealey
  • 2 yearly retreats

As a recent study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice reported, prevention efforts such as education are essential to reducing instances of child sexual abuse. The Office of Child Protection and Safety  for the Diocese of Arlington provides mandatory education programs to raise awareness among adults and children.

More than 30,000 employees and volunteers have received “Protecting God’s Children” training in the diocese and now serve as watchful sentinels, helping ensure that children’s interactions with adults are appropriate and safe and that any suspected abuse is reported to the authorities. In addition, every employee and all volunteers working with children must complete criminal background checks. These checks include state and national criminal record searches and a search of the Central Registry of the Virginia Department of Social Services.

The Diocese of Arlington also provides training in “Formation in Christian Chastity,” as part of all religious education programs and Catholic schools’ curricula. The program encourages children to confide in parents and other trusted adults if someone tries to act inappropriately with them. This is critical in helping to keep children safe and in ensuring that those who do harm children are reported to the authorities immediately.  Since the program began in 2005, more than 65,000 children have received training

An age-appropriate program for teenagers called “You Matter,” presented to our high schools, youth groups and religious education programs, is intended to promote awareness of the nature of sexual abuse, reporting procedures, information on creating safe environments, possible signs of abuse, possible indicators of abusers, stories from victims/survivors, and information on the need for counseling for healing of abuse survivors.

Bishop Loverde, together with clergy, employees and volunteers, continues to strive to protect God’s children. Please continue to join with us in these efforts and to pray for all of those who work for the safety of all.

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