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Christian growth in the heart of Islam; Kazakhstan; and the butler's trial

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Media theorists like to talk about the power of a "narrative," meaning a storyline that's often more influential than reality in shaping perceptions. For instance, violent crime rates in the United States are at historic lows, yet popular psychology, shaped by Quentin Tarantino and "CSI," remains gripped by a narrative of pervasive danger.

Pondering a 'rising tide' of threats to religious freedom

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Beyond any doubt, religious freedom has emerged as the premier social and political concern of the Catholic church in the early 21st century. Pope Benedict XVI offered confirmation as recently as last Saturday, during his trip to Lebanon.

Speaking to politicians, diplomats and religious leaders (including representatives of all four major branches of Islam in Lebanon -- Sunni, Shi'ite, Druze and Alawite), the pope insisted that "religious freedom is the basic right on which many others depend."

In Lebanon, pope mixes bitter and sweet

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In advance, Benedict XVI's three-day trip to Lebanon shaped up as a balancing act, both reaching out and pushing back -- that is, extending an olive branch to the Muslim majority of both Lebanon and the entire Middle East, while at the same time defending its beleaguered Christian minority and rejecting the radical currents in Islam which exploded anew this week with violence in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere.

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In This Issue

August 29-September 11, 2014

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