Yesterday, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected to the position of Pope much to the disappointment of liberal Catholics. While I myself am not a practicing member of the Catholic faith, I was educated in a Catholic university. I embrace the new pope although I had my doubts at first. Many people speculated on what kind of pope he would be. If the fact that he was John Paul II's closest advisor, that should have been a clue.
Yes, there is a need for change within the Church, but there are some policies that should be left well enough alone. The Church will not and should not change its stance on birth control. While I would advocate contraception, I understand the Church's position on birth control. I also understand where the church is coming from on the issue of abortion.
Contraception is not a natural means of preventing pregnancy. Abstinence for if you're not married, and if you are, there is something known as natural family planning that couples can look into. Abortion is not a natural means of terminating a pregnancy, plain and simple.
The Church does not outright ostracize homosexuals. Church policy clearly states that the act of homosexuality is sinful. The act, not the person. The Church obviously has an understanding that people are human and they are not perfect. It is too bad some Protestant faiths can't take a cue from the Catholics.
Pope Benedict XVI was not necessarily elected by a panel of cardinals. The Holy Spirit had a hand in the selection process. Through prayer, meditation, and reflection, these cardinals let in the Holy Spirit and bent to God's will. If you look at the facts, Ratzinger was the right choice.
He had served as an advisor to John Paul II for the better part of 25 years, so he was famliar with the Pope's philsophical and theological stances. Ratzinger has vowed to carry on John Paul II's work by continuing to fight for peace and to try and reunify Christians around the world.
As for the Church's position on women in the priesthood and married priests, they are passing on the tradition of the Apostles. The Church interprets the Gospels for context of the time in which it was written. They do not interpret them literally, as some other religions do. So, if the Church feels that priests should not be married, and women should not be in the priesthood, that is God's will as they see it. It is not the will of the people.
The priest sex abuse scandal may or may not be addressed, something that has yet to be seen. However, rather than waiting for the Church to take a stance on the sex scandal, lay people should start the healing process.
I went to hear Bishop Wilton Gregory speak when he was president of the US Catholic Conference of Bishops. He addressed the issue saying that the healing should start with the lay people. I interpret this as meaning that we should start by forgiving what happened and then opening a dialogue about the issue to see how it should be handled.
The problem is many lay Catholics don't even know their own religion. I was baptized a Catholic as a baby, but I never received any sacraments beyond that. It wasn't until I went to college that I really understood more about the Church. Believe me, when I watch TV and watch lay people speculate about the new pope, I take it with a grain of salt. They know about as much as I do.