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Pope Benedict visits Cuba to strengthen ties with Cuban Catholics

Rickey Rogers / Reuters

People wave flags during the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI in Santiago de Cuba March 26, 2012.

Ramon Espinosa / AP

Pope Benedict XVI walks with Cuba's President Raul Castro, right, as he arrives to Antonio Maceo airport in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, Monday March 26, 2012.

NBC News reports:

Since the Cuban revolution in 1959, the Catholic Church has struggled to raise its public profile here. For decades, under the Marxist government of Fidel Castro, the church was ostracized and believers were punished. The country was officially declared atheist until the government loosened that description in the 1990s.

But, with Fidel Castro out of power now and his younger brother, Raul, in charge, the church has become much more accepted by the government.

NBC analyst George Weigel discusses Pope Benedict's trip to Cuba and that Vatican's firm anti-communism stance.

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