A popular pope collides with capitalism

Pope Francis called unbridled capitalism “the dung of the devil” in July. Now he’ll have to watch where he steps, or rather where he rides, because that devil dung is going to be everywhere.

Scalpers are asking as much as $200 each for the free tickets to see the pope in his popemobile motorcade through Central Park. New York City and the archdiocese distributed 40,000 tickets that will allow each recipient and a guest to see Francis on Sept. 25. But the tickets quickly popped up on Internet sites for as much as $200 apiece.

And these won’t be the hottest tickets for the papal tour. A pair for the Mass on Sept. 27 that Francis will celebrate at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia is offered online for $5,000. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the ones sent out by parishes for the Sept. 25 Mass at Madison Square Garden also surface for resale at ungodly prices.

Politicians and church officials are complaining that something ought to be done, but scalping laws don’t apply. It hardly appears to be an occasion for a new law or cop crackdown.

The situation is doubly ironic. It illustrates a weakness of capitalism: Greed can overpower piety and charity. But it also illustrates a strength: These tickets, whether in the hands of those who bought them or those who would not sell them, will be used by people who cared enough about seeing Francis to sacrifice for it. And perhaps sellers will use the money they get for food, rent or charity.

So scalpers will try to profit off the pope’s visit, but lots of people will profit off the pope’s visit, hawking T-shirts and renting hotel rooms and serving meals. Francis would understand that . . . and perhaps he won’t be angered by the scalping.

He’s a very forgiving man.