Russia and the Pope

by | Oct 2, 2023 | Religion

The Pope must mercilessly condemn Putin's Russia as a country of pure evil.

Recent news stories have reported that the Pope has praised Russian Imperialism especially with reference to the periods ruled by Catherine the Great and Peter the Great.

“Don’t forget your heritage. You are the descendants of great Russia: the great Russia of saints, rulers, the great Russia of Peter I, Catherine II, that empire — educated, great culture and great humanity, …”

“Never give up on this heritage. You are descendants of the great Mother Russia, step forward with it. And thank you — thank you for your way of being, for your way of being Russian.”

Both were aristocratic rulers noted for brutal repression and/or Imperialism. The Pope said they were enlightened and advocates of humanity. Their alleged virtue consisted of spreading and enforcing Catholicism.

The Pope failed to mention that the Enlightenment, the emergence of reason and rights (including freedom of religion)  except in the arts, never reached Russia. Russia has been politically totalitarian, a champion repression and mass murder throughout its history: from pre-Communism to Communism to post-Communism.

It’s history is written in human blood.

What about Catholicism itself? It has much to apologize for:

  • It was one of the earliest versions of totalitarianism and long opposed, by force, any competing religions
  • it was based on faith (belief in the absence of evidence), dogmatism and obedience to authority; it never endorsed reason as a virtue . (It is not in the Ten Commandments)
  • It long accepted the legitimacy of slavery
  • It long opposed science and threatened one of the greatest scientists in history, Galileo, with death for  opposing their false cosmology–it took the Church 400 years to admit their error
  • It long opposed birth control and still opposes abortion
  • It worshipped martyrdom (dying for one’s faith) more than life-affirming achievements
  • It long made a list of forbidden books
  • It viewed sex as a means of making babies but did not approve of it just as a pleasure
  • The church cooperated openly with the Nazis and has tried to be accommodating to Communists
  • It rejected reason as a means of knowing until Aquinas said reason could yield knowledge but he did not admit that it contradicted faith
  • It was not pro socialist (because they were atheists) but it has tried to accommodate them
  • For hundreds of years it has tolerated and covered up sexual abuse of boys by priests (lawsuits are still going on)
  • It long forbade divorce
  • It has always been critical of capitalism because, although it raised the standard of living in every country where it existed, some people were still poorer than others and the poor were to inherit the earth
  • It considers pride, even if earned, as sin, and humility (seeing oneself as low) as a virtue
  • It has strongly resisted acceptance of people who are gay

If Catholicism has become somewhat less oppressive over the centuries, these changes have been based on Enlightenment thinking, viz., that people have rights, that personal happiness on earth is good  and that reason is one’s means of achieving it.

To complete the job the Pope must mercilessly condemn Putin’s Russia as a country of pure evil.

Edwin A. Locke is Dean's Professor of Leadership and Motivation Emeritus at the R.H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland. He is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science (APS), the American Psychological Association, the Society for Industrial & Organizational Behavior, and the Academy of Management. He is the recipient of the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award (Society for I/O Psychology), the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Management (OB Division), the J. M. Cattell Award (APS) and the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the Academy of Management. He, with Gary Latham, has spent over 50 years developing Goal Setting Theory, ranked No. 1 in importance among 73 management theories. He has published over 320 chapters, articles, reviews and notes, and has authored or edited 13 books including (w. Kenner) The Selfish Path to Romance, (w. Latham) New Directions in Goal Setting and Task Performance, and The Prime Movers: Traits of the Great Wealth Creators. He is internationally known for his research on motivation, job satisfaction, leadership, and other topics. His website is:

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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