In Pope Francis' Revolution of Tenderness and Love: Theological and Pastoral Perspectives, Cardinal Walter Kasper clarifies how Pope Francis "brought fresh air into the church, the wind, the confidence, joy and freedom." This fresh air is not simply the result of a charismatic figure, but rests in the deep rooted theological and pastoral experience of Jorge Mario Bergoglio. This book outlines the significant influences that have led Kasper to call Francis a pope leading a radical revolution of tenderness and love-radical because it is rooted in the Gospel.
The central theological vision of Pope Francis is the understanding of God as mercy itself. If God is mercy, then what are its ramifications for believers? Francis says: "Look, read the Beatitudes that will do you good. If you then want to know what you have to do specifically, read Matthew chapter 25. This is the pattern in which we will be judged. With these two things, you have the plan of action: the Beatitudes and Matthew 25. You don't need to read anything else. And I ask you with all my heart." The church is for Francis far more than an organic and hierarchical institution; it is above all God's people on the way to God, the pilgrim and evangelizing the people that always, if necessary, also exceeds institutional expression. The Church must have the mercy of God as its central theme and activity."
Kasper describes Francis as a charismatic, confident leader completely convinced of the message of the Gospel. He "combines continuity with the great tradition of the Church with renewal and ever new surprises. This also includes a poor church for the poor. This is not a liberal program; it is a radical program. Radical because it touches on the root and is a revolution of tenderness and love....What the pope is proposing is the humble way devout people move continents and can move mountains (Mt 17,19; 21,21). A little mercy-he says-can change the world. This is the Christian revolution....It is revolution in the true sense of the word-originally, the return to the origin of the Gospel as a way forward, a revolution of mercy."
Cardinal Walter Kasper
Cardinal Walter Kasper was President of The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. A German by birth, he spends much time lecturing and giving conferences in the English-speaking world.