It was very sad yesterday morning to wake to NPR and hear the translator say (I'm paraphrasing) "...our dear Pope".
I'm not Catholic, but I did admire the Pope. I'm wishing he'd done a bit more to allow modern men and women, especially women, to feel comfortable in the church. While I personally divorce as a viable option, I've seen people's spiritual lives torn apart as they've been discarded from their church at one of the worst times of their lives. I've also seen people struggle with a church that does not condone birth control or abortion. Not being an abortion-rights advocate myself, I can see the church's point there. But no birth control seems downright irresponsible to me. Not only from the standpoint of preventing conception, but also for preventing sexually transmitted diseases.
But this pope, the only pope of my adulthood, had a special way of acknowledging everyone, even people of different faiths. He truly was "dear" to Catholics and even to many of us Protestants.
I know speculation is that the cardinals will choose someone older, who might not be a pope so long. And if they do, that pope might not travel as much as John Paul II. I hope that's not the case. In my outsider's opinion, the Catholic church needs someone who can continue to trot the globe and bring unity.