But the pope never mentions redistribution. He is challenging our idolatry of money and obsession with things (I confess!), a cultural fascination that distracts us from the needy. What is the successor to St. Peter supposed to do when he sees so much suffering even in free-market societies? Quote Ayn Rand?
In a final contextual note, Francis is the pope, not the president. Like Jiminy Cricket, he is urging people to let their conscience be their guide. No one, Christian or otherwise, can escape the mirror he holds up, his eyes doubtless twinkling in anticipation of his next moonlight adventure, searching for souls in need.
Kathleen Parker is a columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.