ROME -- It’s only day one of the Oct. 10-24 Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, but already its signature issue has come into focus: Religious freedom, seen as the cornerstone of a healthy democratic society, and as a universal cause rather than special pleading for the region’s embattled Christian minority.
Freedom of conscience is “not so much a right to be claimed for Christians,” said Patriarch Antonios Naguib of the Egyptian Coptic church this morning. Instead, he said, it’s a “universal right, which Christians and Muslims defend together for the common good.”
“We must emerge from a logic in defence of the rights of Christians only, and engage in the defence of the rights of all,” Naguib said.
Read the full report here: Religious freedom is synod's signature issue 
John Allen is in Rome for the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East. Check NCR Today  throughout the day for more coverage. Here are the stories Allen has filed already: