The Catholic Church says Cuba has allowed construction of the country's first new Catholic church in 55 years. Experts say it's a sign of improving relations between the Vatican and Cuba's communist government.

The church is being funded by donations from Catholics in Tampa, Florida, and will be built in the town of Sandino in the western province of Pinar del Rio.

The church publication "Christian Life" says it will have space for 200 people.

The Cuban Catholic Church had tense relations with the government for many years after the 1959 revolution, but relations have been slowly improving in recent years.

Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI visited the island, the government recognized a Christmas holiday and began allowing masses or homilies to be broadcast on official media.