It's not enough to complain about Obama's class-warfare rhetoric; they need to spend time fighting for the vulnerable.
They don't have to abandon their principles to do it. As a cardinal, Bergoglio urged the faithful to "defend the unborn against abortion even if they persecute you, calumniate you, set traps for you, take you to court or kill you."
But also he insisted that "No child should be deprived of the right to be born, the right to be fed, the right to go to school."
Notice that he did not stop at the right to be born.
Neither should Republicans. The GOP needs to put as much emphasis on ensuring that children are fed and educated as it does on their fundamental right to life.
Now is the perfect moment for conservatives to offer innovative, free-market alternatives to the permanent welfare state.
Spending on social welfare programs for the poor has grown by 50 percent since 2007, yet under Barack Obama, more than 2.6 million Americans have slipped out of the middle class and below the poverty line.
The left fought a war on poverty, and poverty won.
Let the Democrats be the party of dependence and downward mobility.
The GOP needs to become the party of independence, upward mobility and opportunity for all.
In the fall campaign, Mitt Romney declared, "We will hear from the Democrat party about the plight of the poor . . . but my campaign is focused on middle-class Americans."
This was disastrously misguided. If Republicans want to be seen as a more welcoming party, the best way to prove it is by welcoming the poor and championing the vulnerable.
At his installation Mass last week, Pope Francis called on political leaders to "embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important . . . the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, and those in prison."
That is a call Republicans should answer. And, as Pope Francis shows, they don't need to compromise on life or marriage to do it.
Marc A. Thiessen is a fellow with the American Enterprise Institute and writes a weekly online column for The Washington Post.