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Mass in Union with the “Pirate Pope”: Some Questions

Peter or Pirate: No difference?

By Rev. Anthony Cekada

IN MY 2007 article, Grain of Incense: Sedevacantists and Una Cum Masses, I examined at great length the issue of whether a sedevacantist could actively assist at a traditional Mass where a Vatican II pope is named in the Canon of the Mass. On the basis of the dozens of theological, canonical and liturgical sources, I concluded that no, one could not.

In 2014, after the election of Bergoglio, I posted a resumé of my argument entitled Should I Assist at a Mass that Names Pope Francis in the Canon. This explained in simpler terms the points I had made in the original article.

On the face of it, the conclusion should just be a matter of common sense: If you don’t believe that Francis is a true pope, you have no business participating in an act of worship that proclaims he is.

But since the practical application of the principles I outlined would prevent sedevacantists in many cases from assisting at what might be the only traditional Mass offered in their area, I often get questions about the issue. This has increasingly been the case over the past few years, because Bergoglio’s antics have led more and more traditionalists into the sedevacantist camp.

Moral participation in a common action.

I.  Do the Laity in fact “Consent”?

The first series of questions about the conclusions in “Grain of Incense” came to me several years ago from a fellow sedevacantist priest.

The authorities you cite in sections II.B-D refer to the people’s participation in the Mass as a sacrifice offered to God. All they say is that the faithful offer the sacrifice through the priest. You do not cite a theologian who teaches that the layman consents, by his presence, to every accidental detail of the Mass he attends. If you find it, let me know. 🙂

I think you need to re-read the texts I quoted more closely. Specifically, read fnn: 18, 19, 20, 24 (the Pius XII quote is in the text), 26, 27, 28.

These all refer to a true moral participation (a subspecies of cooperation) not just in the sacrifice, but likewise in the actual prayers that commend the sacrifice — “cooperationem seu communem actionem cum alio in orationibus et functionibus cultus.” [cooperation or common action with another person in the prayers and actions of worship]

So, the layman who participates in the Mass actively (in such a way as to satisfy his Sunday obligation and to share in the special fruits of the sacrifice) by that very fact necessarily participates in the all the prayers of the priest — including the una cum. The priest says the prayers, and the laymen participate “in the execution of the act with the principal agent and under his direction.” (Roberti, “Cooperation,” Dict. Moral Theology)

To say the people offer the sacrifice through the priest is an entirely different claim from saying the people participate in every detail of the Mass — including whether the priest says the right Collects, whether he uses the correct name in the una cum clause, whether he is in the state of grace, whether he prays for something sinful in the Memento, whether he makes a sloppy sign of the cross over the oblata, or any one of the thousand other things that can (and sometimes do) go wrong in a Mass. In my limited experience, I have never heard of a moralist who said anything even close to such a claim. In 2000 years of Church history, with all the problems that have occurred during the celebration of Mass, surely it would have come up at one point or another, don’t you think?

First, the authors distinguish between grave and light violations of the rubrics, and those which are imputable or inadvertent. (See Oppenheim, Tract. de Iure Liturgico 2:72, and Prümmer Th. Mor. 3:303ff).

If a priest were to habitually and deliberately violate a preceptive rubric in a grave matter when offering Mass (omitting some of the Offertory prayers, altering the Canon, etc.) the faithful — assuming they were aware of this and understood its gravity — would be obliged to avoid his Mass, because they would be actively participating in his sin. This is simply an application of the general principle on cooperation in the sin of another.

(Over and above the principles already mentioned, even visceral reactions confirm this. There were many times in my youth when I walked out of Masses because a priest perpetrated violated the rubrics and perpetrated some egregious liturgical or doctrinal horror.)

The recitation or non-recitation of the una cum concerns a matter which in itself is grave, and those who insert the name of Benedict in the Canon do so deliberately — sciens volens [knowingly and willingly].

Una cum = wrong Gospel?

On the other hand, the recitation of the wrong Collect or (to limit ourselves to the question of texts, which is the central issue here), omitting the Gloria, chanting the wrong Gospel (as I accidentally did on Saturday) are not in themselves grave matter.

Unlike the una cum, the hapless priest does not recite or omit these texts as the result of due deliberation. Instead, he commits these faults as a result of one of two things:

(1) Error. (“postitivus status animae in quo… habetur notitia falsa, verae rei naturae non consentanea.” — Michels, de Delictis 1:204) [A positive condition of the soul in which.. one has a false and unconsenting knowledge of the true nature of a thing] E.g., he misunderstood what the Ordo said.

(2) Inadvertence. (“status transitorius, in quo id quod habitualiter scimus actualiter, ex distractione vel oblivione, non consideramus.” Ibid.) [A transitory condition, in which, out of distraction or forgetfulness, we do not actually advert to that which we habitually know.] E.g., the server made a mistake, I noticed it, and my eyes lit upon the wrong Gospel text.

These generally excuse Father from moral imputability, and since the matters are not objectively grave anyway, both he and the faithful are off the hook.

But with the una cum, the matter is grave, the act of reciting it is deliberate, and the faithful actively assisting in the Mass, according to the principles set forth above, by that fact participate in the act of the priest.

Proof of exactly what?

II. In Union with a Protestant King?

More recently, an anonymous sedevacantist blogger put up a lengthy post with what he thought was the ultimate gotcha argument against Grain of Incense: In the beginning of the 19th century, Pope Pius VII, he claimed, allowed the phrase pro Rege nostro Georgio to be placed into the Canon of the Mass in England, just after the name of the pope and the bishop in the una cum.

Since George III, obviously, was a Protestant heretic and a pope approved inserting his name — the blogger’s argument went — there’s no real problem for sedes to assist at a Mass where the name of a heretical pope is inserted into the Canon.

The blogger cited no papal decree for his rather astounding factual claim, and nothing to this effect appears in the official Decreta Authenica of the Vatican’s Congregation of Sacred Rites.

The only source the blogger provided was this link, which leads to an 1806 Latin-English missal for the laity,  in which the phrase pro Rege nostro N. (for our King, N.) has been inserted into the Canon. How did it get to be put into a Missal for the laity? Who knows? We certainly don’t have to accept the authority of  its publisher,  P. Keating of Brown & Co., 37 Duke St., Grosvenor Square.

But in any event, as regards the priest’s altar Missal itself, the liturgical commentators are clear: The Missal of Pius V discontinued the mention of the king or civil rulers in the Te Igitur, and the practice was allowed only by way of privilege (as in Spain and Austria), where the ruler was a Catholic.

Caught out on the specific issue of the Canon, the blogger replied that, well, having consulted one of the four thousand books in his personal library, he finds that the Church allowed other public prayers to be chanted for a non-Catholic monarch or president.

Well sure, — but this was in the official’s civil capacity as head of a secular stateAnd in the case of England, this took the form of a prayer chanted after the Mass was over.

The Pope, on the other hand, is prayed for during the Canon of the Mass in his religious capacity as head of the Church.

If the blogger couldn’t figure out that basic distinction, his four thousand books haven’t done him a lot of good. Maybe he should get with the Bergoglio’s environmentalist program and recycle them.

But even after the publication of the first version of this post on September 20, 2017,  our blogger still did not learn his lesson.

So, in a September 25 post, he went on a 1500-word tear against me based entirely on the assumption that the Prayer for the (Protestant) King permitted at Benediction in Canada took place during an “official liturgical service,” thus making (he assures us) an excellent analogical argument for tolerating the naming of a heretic/imposter as Vicar of Christ in the Canon of the Mass.

But all this windbaggery instantly collapses once you learn that, unlike the Mass, Benediction is not considered a true liturgical service.

Pfft. Strike three. And down goes yet another ignorantly made and pompously phrased objection.

And so here we are, ten years after my original article, and despite all the squawking, no one has yet been able to make a credible and coherent case against my arguments.

Active participation by any standard.

III. What about Just Adoration or a Rosary?

Here is another series of questions I received recently from a lay sedevacantist.

I am writing you in hopes of clearing up some confusion which has arisen in my mind and those of others with regard to attendance at ‘una cum’ Masses. At present, I am taking advantage of the internet Masses from SGG Resources and steering clear of the SSPX chapel.

In response to my previous email, you advised me that it would be permissible to make a visit to an SSPX chapel for personal adoration. Additionally, it would be okay to make a confession, but only if it would not create a scandal.

 Father, how could it be wrong to make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament while a ‘una cum’ Mass is being said?

It would be wrong because during Mass such an act connotes active participation.

During my visit, would it be wrong to receive Holy Communion?

Yes, it would be wrong, because reception of the Eucharist constitutes active participation in the rite.

Would it make any difference if, before entering the sanctuary, I would pray for the correction of the inherent wrong of the priest for beseeching our Lord to protect, unite and govern the manifest heretic ‘our pope’ Francis? Silently, I would be addressing my own disapproval by willfully not participating in the dialogue of this Mass but, instead, reciting my Rosary while immersing myself with the Real Presence. Once I concluded my visitation , I would return home and look to receive the graces of the internet Mass.

It would make no difference, because the recitation of the Rosary is one of the approved means of actively participating in the Mass.

If it is wrong being in church within the ‘atmosphere’ of the ‘una cum’ Mass, would it be  wrong for me, though not present in the church, to be at home receiving Holy Communion or Viaticum that has been consecrated during a ‘una cum’ Mass?

Yes — it has been consecrated in a rite that — because it professes communion with a public heretic and proclaims him a preacher of the Catholic faith — is objectively sinful.

 The emergence of the question of the validity of the consecration itself (for me) comes into the area for consideration when the priest participates in this prayerful entreaty for this false ‘pope’. Does the priest really believe this man is pope, or is he just repeating the words of the ‘una cum’ without thinking? Of course, we would never know if the priest is one of the many sedevacantist priests in the Society.

The mental state of the celebrant does not change the objective meaning of the prayers of the liturgical rite, nor can it negate the principles that make it wrong for you, a sedevacantist who has figured things out, to actively assist at the rite.

Father Cekada, maybe I’m making too much of this, but these questions, nevertheless, persist.

 I look forward to receiving your response. 

 I realize that putting these principles into practice is very painful for devout Catholics such as yourself, who do indeed regard the Mass as what Fr. Faber called “the most beautiful thing this side of heaven.” 

But the moral and liturgical principles are what they are, and it’s our duty to apply them. Fr. Faber also said: “Our charity is untruthful because it is not severe; and it is unpersuasive, because it is not truthful… Where there is no hatred of heresy, there is no holiness.”

I recommend you go back and read Grain of Incense again in its entirety.

I had thought for many years that the advice not to attend “una cum” Mass was excessively severe. 

Robert Parsons

But when I looked into the question myself, I discovered that all the evidence from popes, Holy Office decrees, moral theologians, dogmatic theologians, canonists and liturgical commentaries affirmed that the conclusion was correct: that a sedevacantist, who by definition believes a V2 pope is a heretic and a false pope, should not participate actively in an “una cum” Mass, which proclaims the opposite.

The Jesuit Robert Parsons, one of the heroes of Catholic resistance to the Protestant persecutions in England, wrote a whole book entitled “Reasons why Catholics Refuse to Go to Church,” in order to encourage faithful Catholics to avoid worship displeasing to God. We, who (unlike them) do not face the prospect of loss of our lives and livelihoods, should strive to imitate their heroic and uncompromising spirit for the sake of the truth.

Please pray for the grace to be as strong in the practice of the faith as they were!

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My Response to Fr. Chazal’s “Contra Cekadam”

Fr. François Chazal

by Rev. Anthony Cekada

FATHER FRANÇOIS Chazal is former member of the Society of St. Pius X who left the organization several years ago when the prospect of an SSPX-Vatican deal looked particularly likely, and with a number of other similarly-minded ex-SSPX priests, formed a loose association of priests known as “the Resistance.”

The Resistance priests maintain they are carrying on the authentic teaching of SSPX founder Abp. Marcel Lefebvre, which was to “recognize” the Vatican II popes as true popes, but to resist on a case-by-case basis papally-approved teachings, laws and commands that the archbishop and others decided were evil or erroneous.

This position is now generally referred to as “R&R” or “Recognize and Resist” — a label, by the way, that I myself coined in a December 2005 article in The Remnant. Several years ago, I circulated a video which summed up the position as The Pope Speaks: You Decide: Traditionalists Who Destroy the Papacy.

As I and others have repeatedly pointed out, the R&R position simply cannot be reconciled with traditional Catholic teaching on the indefectibility and the infallibility of the Church. Once you say (as all traditionalists do) that the officially-approved post-Vatican II teachings contain error or evil, the only logical conclusion you can come to is that the men who promulgated them had no authority when they did so — sedevacantism, in other words. Otherwise, you wind up with a defecting Church.

I made this argument in a 1995 article Traditionalists, Infallibility and the Pope (since revised in 2006), which has since then been widely circulated as a booklet (at least 30,000 copies) and on the internet.

No one that I know of on the R&R side has, in all these years, published a credible refutation of this rather short work.

When a correspondent of mine challenged Fr. Chazal to do so, Fr. Chazal produced a seven-part, thirty-nine page monograph entitled “Contra Cekadam,” which is now being circulated in installments on the internet.

One would think that such a vast mountain of verbiage would require me to produce an equally prolix response. But no, Fr. Chazal simply missed the point of my argument, and wandered off into the bushes to talk about something else. I don’t feel any obligation to follow him there — or, as Bergolio might say, to “Accompany Fr. Chazal in his journey of discernment.”

The following brief comments to a correspondent will suffice.

•   •   •

Thanks for sending along the Chazal document. It is hardly, as Fr. Chazal seems to think, a point-by-point refutation of my argument in Traditionalists, Infallibility and the Pope.

Fr. Chazal’s Contra Cekadam doesn’t even state the argument of the “Cekadam” in question, still less refute it. Here, for the record, is the argument I made in the booklet:

  1. Officially-sanctioned Vatican II and post-Vatican II teachings and laws embody errors and/or promote evil.
  2. Because the Church is indefectible, her teaching cannot change, and because she is infallible, her laws cannot give evil.
  3. It is therefore impossible that the errors and evils officially sanctioned in Vatican II and post-Vatican II teachings and laws could have proceeded from the authority of the Church.
  4. Those who promulgate such errors and evils must somehow lack real authority in the Church.
  5. Canonists and theologians teach that defection from the faith, once it becomes manifest, brings with it automatic loss of ecclesiastical office (authority). They apply this principle even to a pope who, in his personal capacity, somehow becomes a heretic.
  6. Canonists and theologians also teach that a public heretic, by divine law, is incapable of being validly elected pope or obtaining papal authority.
  7. Even popes have acknowledged the possibility that a heretic could one day end up on the throne of Peter. In 1559 Pope Paul IV decreed that the election of a heretic to the papacy would be invalid, and that the man elected would lack all authority.
  8. Since the Church cannot defect, the best explanation for the post-Vatican II errors and evils we repeatedly encounter is that they proceed from individuals who, despite their occupation of the Vatican and of various diocesan cathedrals, publicly defected from the faith, and therefore do not objectively possess canonical authority.

If Fr. Chazal agrees with the statements in points 1 (the changes are evil) and 2 (and the Church, by Christ’s promise, cannot give evil/error), but he nevertheless still insists the Vatican II popes are true popes possessing authority from Christ, he maintains in effect that the Church of Christ has defected and that Christ’s promises are void.

As for the rest, Fr. Chazal simply:

  1. Recycles opinions on a heretical pope that were eventually abandoned after St. Robert Bellarmine.
  2. Attempts to apply criteria pertaining to ecclesiastical crimes when sedevacantists maintain that the public sin of heresy, not the crime, is what prevents a heretical pope from obtaining or retaining the papacy.
  3. Refloats the phony Adrian VI quote.
  4. Repeats the Paul-vs-Peter canard [see Appendix at end of the post here] on fraternal correction for a moral fault, which does not solve the problem of the Church defecting wholesale by promulgating theological errors and evil universal laws.
  5. In his treatment of Scripture as a “refutation” of sedevacantism, ignores St. Paul’s own assertion that he could in fact, “preach another Gospel,” for which even he himself would become “anathema.”
  6. Recycles supposed incidents from history to demonstrate that there have been heretic popes before, but which incidents (a) are part of the standard arguments of protestants who reject papal infallibility, and (b) have been repeatedly refuted by Catholic dogmatic theologians.

Fr. Chazal’s arguments on each of these points still do not get him out of the theological pickle that points 1 and 2 of my original argument put him in — the Chazalian equation that works out to:

  • Evil changes + true popes = defected Church.

Good luck getting out of that one, Father Chazal!

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A V2 Overview for Neo-Trads

by Rev. Anthony Cekada

NOTE: I often get phone or email inquiries from Catholics who have suddenly sensed that there is something deeply wrong in the post-Vatican II church, but who have difficulty pinpointing exactly what it is. I try to give inquirers an overview of the basics, but it’s quite difficult sometimes to compress even the most essential points into a phone call or an email.

So, I decided to put together a letter that provides these worried souls with both an overview of the main problems and a list of links for them to explore. A version of the letter appears below. 

I think that many priests and faithful will find it a useful tool to educate potential neo-trads to the issues we Catholics face as a result of the Vatican II revolution.

• • •

Dear N.N.

It was a pleasure speaking with you.

Even in a long conversation, it’s difficult to convey to someone like yourself — who is just beginning to sense there is something wrong with the modern version of Catholicism in general and Pope Francis in particular — all the problems that fifty years of Vatican II have caused and how faithful Catholics should deal with them.

Fortunately, I can refer you to a number of links that will provide an overall perspective for examining what happened.

First, Vatican II was a disaster — an atom bomb dropped on the Church, whose evil effects have only gotten worse over the years, as is obvious from the following:

Second, what appear to be the principal causes for this decline?

Third, good Catholics recognize the pope, are subject to him, and believe the dogma of papal infallibility. How can we reconcile these teachings with the evil effects and the doctrinal problems of Vatican II?

Fourth, more and more people are becoming aware that Francis’ teachings seem to contradict traditional Catholic doctrine. What are some specifics?

Fifth, the post-Vatican II liturgical changes led many Catholics to question other aspects of Vatican II. What is the nature of these changes?

The foregoing material should give you an adequate overview of our theological position. For a more detailed explanation of the doctrinal errors of Vatican II, you might want to listen to some of Bishop Donald Sanborn’s sermons on the Church and the heresies of Modernism.

As I mentioned, you are most welcome to assist at Mass at St. Gertrude the Great, and if you’d like to get a little flavor of it beforehand, you might want to view one of our live Mass webcasts here.

If you have any questions or worries, please feel free to contact me or to set up an appointment to discuss these matters further.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Anthony Cekada

Siscoe, Celestine and Sedevacantism

by Rev. Anthony Cekada

ANTI-sedevacantist controversialist and SSPX apologist Robert Siscoe thinks he has found a killer argument against the sedevacantist position:

  • Gregory IX promulgated an evil universal disciplinary law in 1234, but remained a true pope!
  • Bingo! This lets Paul VI (who promulgated the New Mass) and JP2 (who promulgated the new Code of Canon Law) off the hook as false popes!

This short video exposes Mr. Siscoe’s egregious blunder.

Three Vatican II Errors: A Two–Minute Course

OK, MR. OR MRS. TRAD — you always tell your Novus Ordo friends how bad “Vatican II” was.

But can you actually give them examples of the Council’s main errors?

Matthew Arthur and True Restoration to the rescue! They’ve put together a snappy, two-and-a-half minute video that briefly lists and explains the errors for you.

Send the link to friends, especially those who are puzzled about why you’re always banging on about the “Vatican II Church.”

And while you’re at it, check out True Restoration’s outstanding podcasts, videos and other media on the post-Vatican II crisis at this link.


True or False Pope: A Dignified Burial

IN FALL of 2016, Messrs. Salza and Siscoe published a 25,000- word response to my video Dead on Arrival, in which they attempted to explain away their earlier and egregious mixup of basic theological terms and to enlist the writings of Louis Cardinal Billot against the sedevacantist position.

A Dignified Burial makes short work of answering these objections, and demonstrates that the writings of Billot on the universal recognition accorded a true pope support rather than refute the sedevacantist position.


Dead on Arrival: True or False Pope

113 TrueFalse coverby Rev. Anthony Cekada

IN JANUARY 2016, the Society of St. Pius X published a 700-page book touted as the definitive refutation of sedevacantism and the ultimate vindication of the “recognize-and-resist” (R&R) position, John Salza and Robert Siscoe’s True or False Pope.

When it first appeared, I thought it would merit a series of videos that would allow me to present various aspects of the sedevacantist case. But the Salza/Siscoe production turned out to be so fatally flawed that I quickly concluded it was simply not worth the time or the attention.

In this video, I explain why.

Hey Trads! Take This Pop Pope Quiz!

Berg Quiz Quidlb

Correct answer: A.

Answered B or C? Oops! You need to review Pius XII’s teaching on the sin of heresy and membership in the Church, in addition to Boniface VIII’s teaching on submission to the Roman Pontiff as necessary for salvation!

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Veni, Sancte Spiritus: A New Musical Setting

H Spir RoundA liturgical motet by Rev. Anthony Cekada

In the Preface to my book on the New Mass, Work of Human Hands, I mention that the bad music that invaded the liturgy almost immediately after the liturgical changes began in the 1960s prompted me to study music — specifically, organ, choral conducting and musical composition. I was blessed to have studied under some excellent teachers.

More than forty years later, I found myself once again immersed in church music, this time as organist and musical planner at St. Gertrude the Great, where I was able to put to use some of my long-dormant composition skills for the benefit of our small, but excellent choir.

As a result, since 2013, I’ve managed to publish twenty-three editions of Mass settings and liturgical motets, mostly for smaller choirs, on CPDL (Choral Public Domain Library) which makes thousands of pieces of traditional Catholic choral music available for free downloads.

Interested readers can find a list of my editions here. Most of them are arrangements for small choirs of existing works, and would therefore be practical to use in many traditional Catholic churches and chapels.

Among the few, new compositions is my setting of Veni, Sancte Spiritus, the text for the Sequence on Pentecost. It is based on an altered version of the Gregorian melody, harmonized by the late 16th-century composer Seth Calvisius. I reworked the rhythms of the odd-numbered verses and composed descants (a melody that a higher voice sings above the main melody) for the even-numbered verses.

I sought to imitate the harmonized chants and faux bourdons once sung by massed choirs in the great French cathedrals.

It’s an easy piece for a small choir that has at least one soprano able to hit the high notes of the descant. (We’re blessed with a few of these!)

Veni, Sancte Spiritus may be used for the Sequence on Pentecost, a processional on a solemn occasion (such as an ordination or confirmation) or even an Offertory motet.

If you like it, please pass this link along to your local choir director! He can get a pdf of the score here.

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Marcel Lefebvre: Sedevacantist

A video by Rev. Anthony Cekada

Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre made many statements that support sedevacantism, the theological position held by Catholic traditionalists who believe that the Vatican II popes were not true popes, due to public heresy.

Father Anthony Cekada, a priest who was a seminarian in SSPX’s early days and who personally knew the archbishop, provides a selection of these statements in this video, and offers a historical perspective on sedevacantism in the Society.

Father Cekada also discusses True or False Pope, a recently-published book-length assault against sedevacantism that was bankrolled by SSPX’s seminary publishing arm, extensively promoted by the Society, and lavishly praised by SSPX Superior General Bishop Bernard Fellay, as well as a slew of SSPX priests.

Among the pointed questions Fr. Cekada raises in this video are:

  • What statements did Abp. Lefebvre make in favor of sedevacantism?
  • Why are the archbishop’s statements missing from a book on sedevacantism that Bp. Fellay and its authors claim is “comprehensive” and “systematic”?
  • Where did the priests attacked in True of False Pope get the idea for sedevacantism anyway?
  • Did Abp. Lefebvre treat sedevacantist clergy as non-Catholics and refuse to associate with them?
  • Did Abp. Lefebvre ever indicate that he would publicly declare the Holy See vacant if he thought it necessary, even though he was only a retired bishop?
  • Did Abp. Lefebvre say it was necessary to put a pope on trial before declaring him a public heretic?

The answers will surprise SSPX priests, seminarians and lay supporters, and will be of great interest of other traditional Catholics, whether Indult, R&R or sedevacantist.

For an article that provides additional quotes on the topic, click here.

If you enjoyed this video

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