Catholicism has historically been the majority religion since Cuba's colonization. However, Communist Cuba is no exception to the ideological clash between Communism and Catholicism that was common in communist countries. After Fidel Castro's ascent to power in 1959, he imposed restrictions on religious activities such as Christmas celebrations, and in 1962 barred personnel of the Church from joining the Communist Party of Cuba - following a communist tradition of Marxist-Leninist atheism. However, Castro's efforts were not as successful as in traditionally communist countries such as the USSR or China.
When the Cold War ended, such restrictions were lifted and the atheist guidelines outlined in the Cuban Constitution were removed. Catholics have been able openly join the Party since 1990. In 1998 Pope John Paul II made an official visit to Cuba and met leader Fidel Castro in person. Castro honored the Pope publicly. Pope Benedict XVI visited in 2012, meeting both Fidel and Raúl Castro, as did Pope Francis in 2015.