Not all Catholics are cheering about the new pope. His Holy Finger™ indicates that there will be no room for women in the Catholic Church among other things. I've decided to reserve my long essay regarding Ratzinger for a week or two just to see if he has some sort of cosmic revelation and thinks back to his years working on Vatican II with Pope John XXIII, when he was somewhat of a liberal theologian. Like many other German's his age, he was forced to be a part of Hitler Jugend, so for me, it's not an issue. The greatest liberal theologians I studied were German and who knows how many of them had to do the same thing in the early 1940's.
I'm no longer a practicing Catholic, but still it's ingrained in me and I care about the Catholics who still believe. I believe they were grossly hoodwinked by the Catholic bishops who admonished them for even considering voting for a man who is pro-choice (kerry) when in fact his opponent (bush) was also pro-choice, but lies about it and furthermore has no more concern for a consistent ethic of life than any other common murderer. American Catholics have been victims to a gross number of human rights violations yet the guilt factor induced by this powerful religious institution, keeps them in constant fear of their salvation.
Why should non Catholics care? Because Catholics make up the largest religious denomination in the United States. Catholics, long time advocates for the poor and those on the margins of society, have been tricked into believing that as long as they are anti-abortion and turn a blind eye to all the other murderous goings on in the world they will remain in communion with the church as if it assures salvation. This is as dangerous as the current fundamentalist movement which is lending more than a helping hand towards rising fascism in America. I am keeping my fingers crossed in hopes that American Catholics hold true to their deep inner convictions and remember what we learned in Vatican II: that everyone is a worthwhile human being deserving of love and not bigotry.