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The book ‘Banished Babies’ by Mike Milotte, is about babies born in Ireland to unmarried mothers.   But we now know, banished babies were also born to illegitimate mothers in  New Zealand, Australia, America and England. More countries where this practise took place may yet come to light.  Australian Banished Babies want an apology. You might say “But this happened last Century”.  The thing is, the wounds left in these heartbreaking cases, never heal.

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See Adoption: The Open Wound That Never Heals

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‘Banished Babies’ were those babies taken from their unmarried mothers at birth.  I believe that the word ‘taken’ in this instance is a misnomer. It should read ‘ripped’, because that’s how it felt to the young mothers. I know this personally from my own mother’s case. This ‘baby snatching’ as others call it, was not for altruistic purposes; rather it was following Catholic dogma issued by the Vatican’s Office of the Congregation For the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly Office of the Holy Inquisition).   It was certainly not for the welfare of the infants, or their mothers.  No.  It was to remove these babies from their mothers who were seen by the Catholic Church as sinners who had to be punished. In the nuns’ minds, indoctrinated by the Church, the babies themselves were being saved from the clutches of satan and were ‘sold’, mostly to wealthy American couples, who, it was stipulated, had to be of the Catholic Faith.  It was strictly enforced by the Church, that neither mother or infant would ever be able to trace each other, and this caused even more heartbreak decades later.   (See my post about Philomena Lee). Large sums of money were exchanged for the privilege of ‘buying a newborn’, donation being the euphemism used. Ironic, isn’t it?  So much of that wealth the Church received, is now being paid out to even more victims of the Catholic Church; in the form of compensation  to  thousands of families whose children were sexually abused by paedophile priests.

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For all the mothers and babies who never found each other

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Between the end of WWII and 1965 more than 2,200 Irish infants were adopted out of the country, mostly by hopeful parents in the U.S. All the adoptive parents were, by mandate of the church in Ireland, Catholic. Until the late 1990’s and the work of Irish journalist Michael Milotte this was a fact known to few in Ireland and fewer in the U.S. In Ireland Milotte’s work, emphasising both the emotional and physical brutalisation of the birth mothers and the country’s loss of vital human capital, led to a great furor.

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In 2001, the Washington Post reported:

Milotte, a senior reporter for the Irish television network RTE, says life was particularly hard for the mothers in these convents, which were largely self-sustaining thanks to the women’s labour but also received public funding. In some cases, he says, the priests and nuns received money from the adoptive parents, who paid “confinement and medical costs” associated with their child’s birth.

“Where did the money go?” he wonders. “It sustained the people who ran the institutions in a manner they wouldn’t have otherwise enjoyed.”  But money likely wasn’t the primary motivator, he says. Rather, there was a demand for children, and many of the nuns believed they were doing God’s work by sending some of Ireland‘s social outcasts to a better life in the land of opportunity.

“They thought they were doing good,” says Milotte in a phone interview from Dublin. “The fact that people might have rights didn’t enter into their thinking. They thought they knew best. If, in doing the best thing, there was an opportunity to make money, that was all the better.”  In those postwar days, it was not uncommon for Irish children to be adopted by U.S. military and government employees living abroad, Milotte says.

The birth mothers of these children spent their pregnancies and post-natal, pre-adoption lives in varioushomes, often convents, for girls and women who were seen by the conservative Catholic culture as shame-worthy moral degenerates. The horrific conditions that these women underwent was recently dramatized in the movie the Magdelene Sisters.

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Milotte spoke with NPR’s Daniel Zwerdling upon release of his book Banished Babies in May of 1998:

Many of these women were seen as the next thing to prostitutes, and were very often told that when their identities became known. Even when girls got pregnant, very often they didn’t get married even if — because there was the stigma attached to having had sex before marriage. So even where a relationship endured, the child would be given up for adoption. And it was all done in secret.

I am one of those kids given up for adoption. It was in that interview in May of 1998, two days after I returned to Chicago following my mother’s funeral, that I learned of the controversy. I have always known that I was adopted, that I was a ‘true Irishman’, and I had always been proud and honored by the distinction. In the days immediately following my mom’s death I told my Dad that I had never for a second doubted who my ‘real’ parents were, that he and my mom were the only ones who can lay claim to me. I feel no different today.

None-the-less, as the NPR story continued I found myself getting information that I’m sure even they didn’t have.

ZWERDLING:  Here’s one of the most curious aspects of this story.It’s hard enough for most women to give up a baby for adoption during the first few hours or weeks of its life. But church officials forced the young mothers to stay in their convents and raise their own infants for at least one year or more before adoptive families could come and get them.Reporter Mike Milotte says he’s turned up cases where young women changed their minds after their babies were born and tried to leave the convents. (This also happened to my mother in New Zealand). But the nuns sent guards to capture the women and bring them back.For her part, Mary O’Connor says, she knew she’d have to give her baby away. She felt she literally had no choice. But by the time the nuns came to take her son, she’d been raising him for 17 months. Then one evening, O’Connor says, a nun told her, “Get him ready. We’re giving him away in the morning.”

O’CONNOR: So she just carried it over to the convent. There was two parts, like there was a hospital part where the children were kept and then there was the convent part. And the child was brought over to the convent part. And there was three steps up. You went in the side door and there were three steps up. And they went to the top of the steps and they said, “Just say goodbye now. That’s it.”

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-Anne Frandi-Coory 25 July 2011

For more about my mother’s lost children & the heartlessness of the Catholic Church:

  ‘Whatever Happened to Ishtar? – A Passionate Quest to Find Answers for Generations of Defeated Mothers’.

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GARIBALDI  

by Jasper Ridley – A Book Review

Updated 6 December 2013

My  great grandfather, Aristodemo Giovanni Frandi, fought in Garibaldi’s ‘army’ and eventually emigrated to New Zealand in 1875. Many were the tales he told his family about the betrayals of the Catholic Church, of its priests and nuns, who informed on Garibaldi’s fighters time and again. Read more about Aristodemo and Annunziata Frandi

 

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The Catholic Church has the audacity to say that  Catholics made a fundamental contribution to creating a united Italy and a national identity, in a message marking the country’s 150th birthday.  Pope Benedict XVl has in the past stated that Christianity helped forge a national identity that resisted political fragmentation on the Italian peninsula,  and foreign domination.  He stated that the Church’s contribution came through education, literature and the arts in general, listing such personalities as Michelangelo, Caravaggio and Bernini, whose works were often commissioned for religious purposes.  Is the pope trying to publicise a dwindling Christianity in this age of free thinking and science?

Benedict obviously lives in a religious fantasy world.  Artists were stymied and never allowed to paint what they pleased in case it offended the Catholic Church.  Many artists lived a life of subsistence because of this and it is well documented how the Catholic clergy, including extremely wealthy popes and cardinals,  enforced their sexual proclivities on young artists.  The 19th Century Pope did all he could to quash any attempts at the unification of Italy.  It would mean that the papal states would shrink to the City of Rome and finally to Vatican City.  Giusseppe Garibaldi led the Risorgimento;  he and his followers hated the Catholic Church (Papal Rome) because so often they were betrayed by nuns, priests and cardinals.  It was Garibaldi and those politicians who supported his quest for unification, who finally forced Austria, papal sycophants, and France, out of Italy.  Garibaldi’s heartbreak was that Nice, his birthplace,  was ceded to France in 1861 by politicians, as part of the deal that they leave the peninsula.

It is such a joke that Pope Benedict could come out and say it was through Catholic education and literature that Italy was united.  The truth is, only ‘the list’ of books approved by the Church were available for the general populace to read.  Most literature that made its way to Italy was burned or hidden in heavily fortified libraries only accessible to Monks and Cardinals.  See previous post Vatican Library.   As for resisting political fragmentation; the only reason they exiled or brutalised any political opposition was because the Church did not want to lose the corrupted power base they possessed.   The Church was fully funded and supported by the Spanish, French and Austrians.

If any group can be held responsible for seeding the Risorgimento (resurgence) it was the people of Italy themselves; mostly peasant farmers, some elitists, and mercenaries who had fought with Garibaldi in South America.  Peasant farmers, led by Garibaldi, almost single-handedly drove foreign power out of Sicily, and this was the catalyst that began the unstoppable unification of the peninsula.  The Roman Catholic Church opposed unification simply because it would mean the end of the vice grip they held over Italy.  Read Garibaldi by Jasper Ridley, it is very enlightening and I would hazard a guess that it is not one of the Vatican’s favourite books.

– Anne Frandi-Coory 6 December 2013


See post:  Terroni by Pino Aprile    “All that has been done to ensure that the Italians of the South become ‘Southerners’…

I feel vindicated in writing about the generational sexual abuse in Catholic Lebanese and Italian families which I uncovered during the research for my book ‘Whatever Happened to Ishtar?’ . If  paedophile priests were sexually abusing children why would we be surprised when we find fathers and uncles doing the same thing?  At last the abused can speak out about what has been covered up by the Catholic Church, not for decades, but for centuries!

The woman’s testimony below reminds me how complicit nuns were, if not in the sexual abuse, then certainly in the physical and emotional abuse, of children in Catholic orphanages and schools.    My brother wrote a story in his early teens (Hypocrisy of the Catholic Church; my brother’s story) about the time he and our mother were starving,  yet they were  turned away by a fat priest who was on his way to his roast dinner which the pair could smell wafting from the kitchen of the presbytery.

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Ex – Italian victim & priest,  Domolo speaks out. Caption above: “We are victims of paedophile priests”

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The Vatican, under global pressure,  has just raised the statute of limitations for reporting sexual abuse, to twenty years from the time the victim turns eighteen.  However, most human rights activists agree there should be no statute of  limitation as occurs in most western countries.

Excerpts from Associated Press:

VERONA, Italy – Italian victims of a paedophiliac clergy want such sexual abuse declared a crime against humanity, and they launched an international appeal on Saturday during the first public gathering of such victims in Italy.

Organizer Salvatore Domolo, a former victim and an ex-priest, said the group is looking abroad for solidarity because justice for pedophile victims is hard to come by in Italy with a statute of limitations of 10 years.

“Here there is no hope. By the time a victim arrives at the awareness of having been a victim, legal intervention is not possible,”  Domolo said in a country that has long been reluctant to confront the Vatican in its own backyard.

“The complicity of the hierarchy, together with the enormity of the numbers and vast geography of these crimes, should lead us to consider that we are facing a crime against humanity carried out by a political-religious organization,” Domolo told a news conference before the victims met, his delivery bearing the cadence of a homily.  “With this gathering, we want to ask civilian justice to do its duty in full freedom and truth, without being intimidated by the clerical culture.”

The meeting was held opposite Verona’s heavily visited Roman colosseum and advertised with placards outside. Passers-by were free to enter, but few did.

Another will be held in Rome at the end of October, but Verona was chosen for the first gathering because it is the home of a school for the deaf where 67 former students have alleged suffering sexual abuse, paedophilia and corporal punishment from the 1950s to early 1980s.  About 40 former victims inquired by e-mail — but many are still reluctant to come forward, organizers said.

The Vatican has been reeling for months as thousands of victims around the globe have spoken out about priests who molested children, bishops who covered up for them and Vatican officials who turned a blind eye to the problem for decades. In the latest admission, hundreds of victims came forward in Belgium with tales of horrific abuse linked to at least 13 suicides.

While Italian bishops have acknowledged 100 sexual abuse cases that warranted church intervention in the last decade, victims believe the true number in Italy is much higher because the reluctance to speak out in Italy is especially strong.  “This gathering is fundamental because we live in a social situation in which the presence of the Catholic church reduces the possibility of talking about the situation,” Domolo said. “They do it all over the world, but in Italy even more. That we are just now having the first gathering of victims indicates that only in the recent months is something exploding in Italy.”

Domolo, now 45, said he had been a victim of his parish priest from age 8 to 12, and that he was forced to confess “as if I had sinned.   The church has known for 50 years this has been going on but kept it quiet in a disgusting way,” he said.

Domolo was a priest for 15 years. He renounced both the priesthood and his Roman Catholic faith after meeting another victim on a trip to Ireland in 2001. A man named Francesco from Padova, who did not give his surname, told the group he had been abused both by priests and nuns who used punishment as an excuse to touch him inappropriately. “The worst was my family. They refused to believe it was true,” he told the group, adding he has only been able to come to grips with it through therapy.

A 58-year-old deaf woman, who only gave the nickname given to her by the nuns of Verona’s Antonio Provolo Institute for the Deaf, carefully annunciated her words as she told her story. During her 15 years at the institute, she was only alone with priests once a week for confession. Recalling her first confession, she said she asked the nuns what to say, and they asked her what she had done. “I told them I scratched myself everywhere because I had too much wool clothing. The nuns said, ‘Tell them you touched yourself.”‘

At that, she said, the priest asked her to lift her clothing to show him where. And so it continued, she said, “little by little, week after week. We girls didn’t do anything, and we had to confess. The priests, who sinned, did they ever confess, I ask?”

Updated 14 November 2014  

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Paedophile Priests Sent Abroad…….yes, children are still being sexually abused by Catholic Priests and yes the Vatican is still shifting them to poorer countries! 

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A message for Pope Francis:  

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pope francis

 

Get your own palace (The Vatican) in order before you preach to the rest of the world about peace and kindness. As far as I can see, you have done nothing different to any other pope before you, when it comes to transparency about the Catholic Church’s scourge of clerical child sex abuse!

Paedophile priests are still being shuffled around the globe, this time to Africa, Asia, South America etc. Until we see paedophile priests defrocked, convicted and sent to prison, your words are just empty words.

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Britain Pope

Kiss of Betrayal

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This photo is disgusting in light of the Vatican’s cover up of the sexual abuse of thousands of children and the protection of paedophile priests. Just wait for the time bomb of huge numbers of abused children to explode over the next few years in countries such as Africa and parts of Asia.  Children are now being abused in developing countries where these rapist priests have free reign after being exiled from America, Australia, Canada, Ireland etc, to escape conviction.  But not only children suffer from this insidious clerical abuse.  It was revealed in 2001 that predator priests sent to Africa, forced themselves on nuns, because they were free from Aids/Hiv virus.  Convents stripped the abused nuns of their vows and evicted them from the convent with no means of support.  Of course, the offending priests were free to continue their abuse.  Anyone like me who was indoctrinated into the Catholic faith from infancy, will know first hand the adoration which nuns bestow on priests.  So, like children, they are powerless and vulnerable in the hands of a  priest intent on his own sexual gratification.

The Vatican has a priority list when in damage control and spin: Protect its wealth, priests and reputation. Women and Children’s welfare is not considered! The hypocrisy is sickening.

Pope Benedict the chief hypocrite of the Catholic Church

Updated 21 May 2015….the pope may have changed, but the Catholic Church hasn’t. Pope Francis appears to be making changes at he Vatican, but nothing convinces me that the welfare of child sex abuse victims has been put at the front and foremost by the Church.  In fact, it is still protecting paedophile priests, and Cardinal George Pell.

Can you believe that  Pope Benedict,  ex chief of the  Office of the  Inquisition until 2005, (re-named the Office of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith or CDF) truly believes that homosexuality between consenting adults is evil, along with divorce and abortion, yet through Canon Law, exonerates, forgives and protects from the criminal law of legitimate nations, paedophile priests who have  raped and ruined the lives of thousands of children. In his warped view, paedophile  priests are afflicted with an illness they cannot control!  It says much about the Catholic religion and their Canon Law; it considers gay relationships within the priesthood as  the most grievous of sins and  offending priests are to be excommunicated immediately! Yet those priests sodomising boys are protected by the Vatican while the victims are forced into silence.  As long as the paedophile priests  say extra hail marys after confession they will be protected forever by the Vatican.  This is the pope who has publicly stated that to ordain women as priests is an equivalent evil to sodomising children.

The Pope  visited African countries recently and warned against the evils of divorce and contraception but neglected to warn the people  about the paedophile priests who have been sent to that continent in their hundreds to shield them from certain imprisonment in Europe, Ireland,  America and other countries,  for the sexual abuse of innocents;  in order to protect the Vatican’s   vast assets and the reputation of the Catholic Church.  The welfare of the children so sexually abused is not considered.  It is estimated that when the child sexual abuse scandals do break in developing countries (in Asia as well) the total number of victims added to those already uncovered, could reach in excess of 100,000, and will as usual be the tip of the iceberg.

The little book with so much to say about Catholic paedophile priests and the Vatican ‘State’ which protects them

I bought a book on Saturday at one of my favourite   little book shops.  It is  adjacent  to the Sun Theatre in Yarraville and I often spend time looking for that special book  when I  go to a movie at the theatre.  This particular book is a ‘Penguin Special’ and is so up to date, it features the visit of  Pope Benedict to the UK in the last few days.  If you are, or have been,  a Catholic, this book will stun you.  I had believed the Vatican to be corrupt in the past, but I am absolutely incredulous at what the author has uncovered in his book.  That the pope and the officials at the Vatican could be so hypocritical and uninterested in the plight of all those hundreds of innocent victims is criminal.

The Vatican and the pope protect,  from outside scrutiny, their highly secret documents and decisions regarding  abusive priests, through the process of Canon Law and  constantly declare that the Vatican is a sovereign state and by definition beyond the reach of the national criminal law of other countries.  However, Geoffrey Robertson the author of  ‘The Case Of The Pope; Vatican Accountability for Human Rights Abuse’ explores the legality of recognising the Vatican as a state.  He documents the vast numbers of child sex abuse cases around the globe which reached new heights during the reign of  the two previous popes before Pope Benedict, when he as Joseph Ratzinger, headed the Office of  Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.   The three were a formidable team.  When the first sex abuse scandals involving numerous priests erupted in America in 2001, various cardinals, Bishops and other Vatican spokesmen blamed: “Jewish journalists working on the  New York Times”, “petty gossips”, “natural enemies” of Catholics, “the American problem”, modernity, “the media’s treatment of Catholic church leaders is comparable to Hitler’s treatment of the Jews”.  When scandals broke in Ireland these spokesmen had to re-think who to blame.

“……Congratulations sent to Bishop Pican, with the approval of Pope John 2nd and Cardinal Ratzinger, for refusing to  report his paedophile  priest to the police, were congratulations circulated to bishops to encourage them to do likewise.  This really disposes of the  fallacious argument that the Vatican would be quite content for law enforcers to arrest its guilty priests”.

I wont quote any more from the book because you really need to read the book to grasp the extent of the scandals and the extreme failure of the Catholic Church to protect the innocent.  It is all about the protection of reputations, and wealth; no matter what the pope tells the families in his audiences, children are well down the list of priorities in the Vatican machine.  You will be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of victims individual priests abused.  The sections on the extensive results of research carried out into  celibacy and the effect on priests, the fact that around 80% of victims are boys,  and the lifelong consequences of the damage done to victims, is both heartbreaking and riveting.

How corrupt is the Vatican?  This so-called state which appears to be above international law, is currently being investigated for money laundering and several million dollars  have been seized!

– Anne Frandi-Coory 21 May 2015

 

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Australasian Catholic Orphanage in the 1940s

Updated 11 April 2017

In an  article about Catholic adoptions, written by a reporter at the Guardian Newspaper  in 2009, excerpts appear from the book: The Lost Child of Philomena Lee’ by Martin Sixmith. (This story has been made into a film Philomena –  starring Judi Dench).  It  tracks the heartbreak of an unmarried  mother (fallen woman) whose  son was adopted out as an infant.  After years of trying to come to terms with her loss, Philomena attempts to track down her son and he in turn looks for her.  They are thwarted by various institutions and cruel nuns, her son dies before she finds him, not knowing that she was searching for him too.  The book encapsulates the hardships experienced by young mothers and their infants following the adoption process which was often forced on them by the Catholic Church.  Stories such as this  were repeated over and over in the 40s & 50s, not only in Britain and other parts of Europe, but also in Australasia.  My mother, Doreen Frandi (see my post   ‘Whatever Happened To Ishtar?’), experienced a similar fate at the hands of the Catholic Church.

Philomena tells the reader that after giving birth, the girls were allowed to leave the convent, only after they or their families paid the nuns one hundred pounds.  The vast majority couldn’t afford this sum, so lived a life of  ‘pay back’ drudgery for three years while living  in the convent.  They made artifacts and rosary beads and the Church kept the profits from their sales. [See post July 2010 ... Carla Van Raay’s book God’s Callgirl]. The young mothers were forced to sign a document giving away all their rights to their infants and surrendering them to the nuns.

None of the mothers wanted to give their infants up, but instead of assisting them to keep their babies, the nuns reminded them that they would not be able to keep their babies and work for their upkeep at the same time.  Even though she was in her 70s when the article was written,  Philomena still cried at the thought of what happened on the day the nuns took her little boy from her.  Because her family refused to allow her to return home,   she was sent by the Church to work at a home for delinquent boys.

After marrying and having children, Philomena set on a path to find her lost son.  She returned again and again to the convent, but the heartless nuns  just kept reminding her that she had signed a legal document stating she relinquished all rights to her son and that she would never attempt to find him.

Philomena quotes in the book “Early on in the search, I realised that the Irish Catholic hierarchy had been engaged in what amounted to an illicit baby trade.  From the end of the second world war until the 1970s, it considered the thousands of souls born in its care to be the Church’s own property. With or without the agreement of their mothers, it sold them to the highest bidder. Every year, hundreds were shipped off to American couples who paid ‘donations’ (in reality, fees) …the only condition laid down by archbishop McQuaid was that “… [the adopting parents] should be practising Catholics”.

Separated by fate, mother and child spent decades looking for each other and were repeatedly thwarted by the refusal of the Church to reveal information about the family who adopted the boy, each unaware of the other’s heart-breaking search.   Her son spent his last years in a downward spiral; tormented by his inability to find his mother and the orphan’s sense of helplessness, he didn’t know where he came from, who he was, or how he should live. He felt unloved by his adoptive family, especially his father.  When he contracted aids, he made one last emotional plea to the convent orphanage for information about his mother but they steadfastly refused to oblige this dying man’s final request.  He asked therefore if they would at least grant him permission to be buried in the convent cemetery where upon his headstone he could place enough details so that if his mother ever came looking for him (my emphasis) she would know where he was buried.   The nuns callously  remained tight-lipped about the fact that his mother had been searching for him for decades and that his maternal aunts and an uncle lived just a few miles down the road from the convent.  His mother found his obituary in a US newspaper.

Philomena Lee’s story

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Shelton Lea

Delinquent Angel,  a biography about a Melbourne poet, Shelton Lea,  written by Diana Georgeff in 2007, is another  tragic story about a man’s futile search for his birth mother, the  Lea  family (NSW Darrell Lea chocolate dynasty) who adopted him and whose ulterior motives  didn’t include a loving family life.  Yes, and another Christian institution was involved.

Lea Family dynamics proved disastrous for Shelton and his adoptive mother placed him in a psychiatric institution at the age of three.  But his biological heritage eventually shone through and although his was a  brilliant talent, tragically it never reached its full potential.

-Anne Frandi-Coory 28 August 2013

Also here on Anne Frandi-Coory’s Facebook page

https://www.facebook.com/myhomelibrary/

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