A couple of things about the new pope:
I was raised catholic, but don't go to church anymore. Still, I know a little bit about the church and I've been a little shocked at the level of basic ignorance about the reality of the politics of the modern catholic church that I've encountered on the blogosphere both before and since the election of Pope Benedict XVI.
First of all, the hope among American catholics that a "liberal" pope; that is, someone who would be down with women or married men being priests, who would OK birth control, etc., was always wishful thinking. In the American church these are mainstream ideas, so to people in the U.S. it probably seems like thes reforms are right around the corner.
In fact, since the 1960's the church has been moving in the other direction. The Latin American church, which is where the real action is these days, along with Africa, is massively conservative in terms of liturgy and theological doctrine. The point being, if American Catholics really want big-time reforms sometime soon, they need to split from Rome. Period.
Second, I've been surprised at how little analysis has been devoted to the new Pope's choice of names. This is extremely significant and tends to tell a lot about where a new Pope sees himself fitting in the historical scheme of things.
Ratzinger chose Benedict XVI. Now obviously there are a lot of Benedicts before him, and I'm not going to do a rundown of every single one. But the most recent Benedict, number XV, was known for basically one thing - he was anti-war.
So American conservatives, as Ed Kilgore noted, are probably misunderstanding the real situation when they rejoice at the election of this "conservative" Pope. Inasmuch as the key political issues of our day are linked to global industrialization and its necessary results (military aggression by rich nations against poor ones), Pope Benedict XVI is likely to be on the side of wooly-headed leftists like myself.
Indeed, since the dominant ideology of American conservatives seems to be the belief that making war without credible pretext on defenseless, poor nations is some kind of great moral triumph, they would probably be closer to the truth to consider Pope Benedict XVI their mortal enemy.