I must confess that I'm a cynic of the papacy. I'm obviously influenced by my family who has been staunchly Protestant since it has been possible to do so. Aside from my mom's half-sister who converted to Roman Catholicism after she married, you'd have to look back over 500 years to find another papist.
My own need to have a distinct identity may have led me to turn to Roman Catholicism despite the leanings of my ancestors, were it not for one small problem: The Pope.
I don't believe that the pope is a successor to the Apostle Peter. I do not believe that he speaks the very words of God while speaking ex-cathedra (for other non-catholics this means when he speaks from his special chair) and I do not believe he is the Vicar of Christ. I believe he is capable of speaking the words of God only when he reads the scriptures...just like me...so ladee dah!
That said, it would be naive to underestimate the power the pope has in the world. While deeply cynical my own father (an Anglican and staunch opponent of the Vatican) thought that John Paul II was a faithful man and a force for righteousness within Christendom. My dad said this even though he disagreed with the pope on so many issues. My dad rarely spoke of anything spiritual, so this comment was very profound.
While Benedict XVI gets used to his new clothes and huge apartment he does so with my blessing. I also don't pretend for a moment that he cares one iota about my blessing but handing out blessings is something I can do in my own blog, so there. I wish Benedict nothing but good, and I'll pray for him as often as my mind will remind me to. (Which isn't saying much considering I'd forget to feed my cats if they didn't stand at their dish and scream at me until I dumped kibble in their bowl)