The magazine Verdad y Esperanza quoted Cardinal Ortega as saying that preparations for the papal visit January 21-25 had begun contact, but a real dialogue had not yet begun. The magazine, made available by the church on Thursday, was the first publication produced by an association of Roman Catholic journalists formed last year on the island.
Meanwhile, US President Bill Clinton said he saw the papal visit as a hopeful sign and said that any concessions by the Cuban government to human rights and freedom would be met with "reciprocal concessions" from the US on an economic embargo and diplomatic relations. "I think there ought to be a reciprocal relationship ... where, as Cuba shows more support for democracy and human rights, we should open up, we should try some reciprocal effort, but it has to be reciprocal," he said. "It will be interesting to see how the Pope's visit goes. I'm very encouraged that he's going," he added. "The Pope is a very persuasive fellow ... we hope that he does well."