The document ranges widely, treating some of the faults of Catholic cultures, the evil of sex trafficking, the church's recognition of God's unbroken covenant with the Jews and how pastors should preach.
The most famous passage of it, though, is an attack on "trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world."
He continues: "This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system."
This is a caricature, as many advocates of free markets have pointed out (and even allowing for some issues that have been raised about how these words were translated from Spanish).
Consider, for a moment, the view of someone who believes that the U.S. has a crying need for lower marginal tax rates on the highest earners, the better to motivate them to work, save and invest, which will benefit the poor by helping the economy expand. That's not my view. But it also isn't a view that rests on trust in the goodness of rich people. It rests on the expectation that their self-interest can yield unintended benefits for others.
And whether or not that expectation is well-founded, it need not involve any belief that existing economic arrangements are in any sense sacred. In fact, the most extreme free- marketeers are pretty unhappy with those arrangements throughout the world.
The pope is persuasive when he counsels against consumerism and challenges us to give priority to moral and spiritual values over merely material ones. That includes those of us in the news media. "How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?"
Much of Francis's economic thought, though, seems to rest on the identification of free markets with extreme individualism.
A generation ago, the writer Michael Novak and others were instrumental in persuading many American Catholics that markets could instead enable a creative form of community.
The pope's remarks suggest that this type of evangelizing still needs to be done.
Ponnuru is a Bloomberg View columnist, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior editor at National Review.