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Cuban cardinal says Pope's visit changed little

Cuban Cardinal Jaimi Ortega said on Saturday the Communist-run government continued to ignore the Catholic Church, and always tense relations had not changed five years after Pope John Paul ll visited the island.

"Relations with the Cuban government remain essentially the same," he told the press at a Havana art exhbition opening. "The social-political space is always very limited and it appears often the church is ignored."

The pope's January 1998 visit to Cuba raised expectations Havana would adopt a more liberal policy toward the Church, perhaps even allowing it to broadcast television programs and operate schools.

Ortega said he was disappointed that neither policy reform had come to pass.

"The government does not recognize the church is a public entity that should have access to the communications media," Ortega said. "There is a silence in terms of information about the church."

The Cardinal said the Holy Father's visit had helped the Catholic Church become more acceptable and less mysterious to Cubans. The church was portrayed as counterrevolutionary and marginalised during the first three decades of the revolution.

Christmas Day holiday was banned in 1969 by President Fidel Castro's government and only restored in 1997 on the eve of the pope's visit.


Cuban Dissident Greeted Briefly by Pope (Zenit)
Castro praises Pope during meeting with US university students (13/12/02)
Cuban communist party urges supporters to oppose Church (15/4/02)
Cuban Cardinal Responds to Religious Persecution (Zenit)
Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino: an archbishop committed to human rights education
What is happening in Cuba? (Aid to the Church in Need)
Catholic Church in Cuba ( | Jaime Lucas Cardinal Ortega y Alamino
Conferencia de obispos Catolicos de Cuba (CELAM site)

13 Jan 2003