The door to the cell in Lepoglava Prison swung open. Inside, Archbishop Aloysius Stepinac, most important political prisoner in Titoist Yugoslavia, stood up to receive a visitor, A.P. Correspondent Alex Singleton. After 4½ years of a 16-year sentence imposed on him for alleged wartime collaboration with the Nazis, the prelate looked fit and unbroken. The newsman explained that Marshal Tito's regime had agreed to an uncensored interview and photographs. What message did the spiritual leader of Yugoslavia's 7,000,000 Roman Catholics have for the outside world?
On the condition of religious affairs in Yugoslavia: "They have improved in the last three years. The Communistic Party has taken a more realistic approach toward democracy.".
On the possibility of a new treaty between Yugoslavia and the Vatican: "Where there is good will, there a compromise exists."
On the terms for such a concordance: "That is up to the Holy See." The Archbishop listed as fundamental for the church the right to give religious instruction to Roman Catholic children, perform marriage ceremonies, maintain a free Catholic press, engage in Catholic social and welfare activities.
On rumors that he might be freed if he exiled himself from Yugoslavia or entered a monastery: "I am not willing to leave the country because I do not feel guilty."
A Vatican spokesman agreed that Stepinac had accurately presented the church's view. If Tito had allowed the interview with his prisoner as a gesture toward a rapprochement with Roman Catholicism, he now knew where matters stood. Next move seemed up to him.