So! Now to see what this will mean for the Roman Catholic church in the next while.
Which brings me to another point.
I had read at one point that the cardinals do not so much "vote" on the next pope but rather seek to determine, through inspiration from the Holy Spirit, the man God has chosen.
In the view of this, it bemused me whenever I heard people talking about "obviously electing an interim pope" or "will they be looking for someone who is like his predecessor" or "the church needs someone who will continue the reforms that were begun" or the like. Because if the cardinals truly believe that God has called a man and that they need merely identify him, then it would seem to me that things such as which country the person is from, what his views on doctrine X or Y are, or whether he's a cardinal or not, are irrelevant—they aren't voting or swayed by campaigning but are trying their best to choose the man God wants as his representative on earth at this point in time.
Though if the quote I had read by a cardinal is wrong and they do indeed choose on such "worldly" criteria or their opinion of each "candidate", I'd be a bit sad.
In a related point, I wonder whether people who claim that the church should do this or that, or institute (or not) this or that reform, or that the Catholic church has to come to grips with this or that topic, have chosen the right church. As I understand it, part of the point of the Roman Catholic church is that it is led by God through his earthly representative, the Pope (much as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claims to be led by God through his earthly representative, the President of the Church)—and then it's up to God (through inspiration to the Pope) to decide what direction the church should take, and not to some sort of democratic sentiment or grass-roots activism or whatever. And if someone feels that God doesn't direct things top-down, then I'd imagine that means that the Roman Catholic church cannot be the church of God (nor could the LDS church be), and that they're better off in another church. See also this entry by robnorth.
Another way of putting it might be to say that if the Catholic church doesn't react in a certain way you expect it to (say, adapting to specific changes in society), then probably one of the following is true: (a) the RC church is led by God, so your expectations are unreasonable, (b) your expectations are reasonable, and the fact that the church does not change despite claiming to be led by God mean that it is not, in fact, led by God, (c) the RC church is not led by God, but your expectations are nevertheless unreasonable.
Because it's not up to the RC church to say "we'll do this or that because it's the PC thing to do in today's post-modern, third-millennium world"; they're there (they say) to carry out God's will—which is not something they can alter or decide for him. So if God decides to treat us men differently, then the church should change to reflect this, if they are indeed led by God; if God decides not to change, then the church should stay the same.
(And I do believe that God has slightly different commandments for different people at different times. Which is one reason why it's important, I think, to have a church that is led by inspiration and prophesy, not merely by, say, tradition or the scriptures that were given thousands of years ago or by the wisdom of men.)