This sums up my thought on it pretty well:
What’s there to say about the Pope dying? He both did a lifetime of good works, and was the leader of a frequently backwards and harmful global power. (Darren)
The next one probably wont change much to that.
Something I often remember when I hear about the pope and the church comes from a scifi book (!!). It’s in Hybrids, the last volume of the Neanderthal Parallax trilogy. The series is about parallel versions of earth where one is occupied by Neanderthals that have reached a similar level of technology as we have, the other is ours. They are, however, much more advanced in a lot of sociological areas. I won’t say too much because at least one reader is currently going through the first volume but religion is one place where the two races differ.
The Neanderthal main character finds it very curious that the human main character is hoping for a new pope who might “change the rules” concerning abortion, gay marriage, contraception, etc. He finds it curious because (paraphrasing) “Isn’t your religion based on the word of god? How can a new pope change that?”. He wonders why people would follow what a god has dictated when in reality they are only following they way his highest followers are interpreting it. Good question dude. It’s the same with most religions, people follow what the religious leaders are saying as if it’s the word of God directly but it’s only one of many interpretations.
(I guess it gives you an idea of my “religious life” when I comment on the Pope with a quote from a blogger and thoughts from a sci-fi book ;) )