I have been considering how silly it is to get worked up over the suggestions of non-Catholics in the qualities of the next pope and what should be changed. If you are not
a Catholic or possibly even a theist why should you believe that the Holy Spirit both guards and inspires the Catholic Church.
You would see it as only a human institution and human institutions change with time in what they believe as truth. If modern society sees no problem with same-sex activity or same-sex marriage then why should a human institution be any different. All the things accepted in modern society they believe should also be accepted in the Church.
To accept the fact that the Catholic Church is something totally different and that it does not respond to the winds of societal change in regards to the truth is a fact that they are not willing to accept, at least as of yet. The reason that the Catholic Church receives most of the broadsides of negative opinion is the very fact that they see in some way the odd quality of it in that it does not bend to the pressure of modernity. The Church will not always teach the fullness of the truths from its treasury, but it will not replace the treasury with a bowl of pottage as these commentators might wish. Sometimes a shining city set on a hill must be stamped out to conform to the rest of the dingy environment around it. In a way these attitudes are a back-handed compliment to the Church. Once when Cardinal O’Connor was a little down about homosexual activists from Act Up who were desecrating the Eucharist. Fr. Groeschel told him to "Cheer up, at least they know it is the Catholic Church they must attack."
So it is really quite understandable the opinions of these pundits who see the Church as nothing more than a club and that some rule changes need to be made. So it is quite understandable their commentary considering the understanding they have and it would only be odd if non-Catholics actually understood the nature of the Church. Some will understand what the Church believes about itself, but this does not necessarily lead them accepting it. For example writer extraordinaire Mark Steyn "gets it" about the Church, though he isn’t Catholic.
Dissident Catholics though are another story since they are suppose to accept that not only is the Holy Spirit guarding and proclaiming the truth through its Church today, but that it has done so since it came into existence as blood and water flowed from Christ’s side. They are always saying that they have a prophetic voice, as if any Old Testament prophet was ever killed because they were preaching the same message as the society around them. They were killed precisely because they were calling the nation of Israel back to the truth since they had fallen to the idolatry of their neighbors. I could just hear Call To Action in the context of those times. "We will not have equality until women Levite’s can enter the Holy of Holies. In fact all tribes should be able to offer sacrifices and not just this Male Levite dominated hierarchy that suppresses the gift of women and of other tribes." At least then the earth would have opened and swallowed them up.
When you just ignore the teaching authority of the Church over your own "prophetic" understanding then you no longer need a magisterium. When you can ignore that the Pope had closed the subject concerning women’s ordination, then you also have no need of a pope. Why do they look on the election of a new pope hoping that he will change doctrines when they don’t even accept the authority of our late Holy Father? Obedience only when you agree with someone is no obedience at all. When you can ignore Church tradition and also ignore the writings of the Fathers of The Church (or only selectively parse them) then you also don’t have any need of tradition. Cardinal John Henry Newman famously said "To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant." The opposite is also true. To be shallow in history is to cease to be Catholic. If you truly believe that the Holy Spirit is guiding the Church in the acceptance of homosexuality, abortion and women’s ordination, then you must also believe that the Holy Spirit is working in just about every Church but the Catholic and Orthodox churches. That these other church’s are more spirit filled. Why would you want to be part of a church that you believe to be fundamentally wrong on some of the most important questions concerning life and marriage. A church they believe has been discriminating against women and those with same-sex attraction for two thousand years. A church that automatically excommunicates those who are involved in the direct procurement of an abortion. A church that calls contraception gravely sinful To them this is not a church that needs just a little theological bondo to make it look nicer to the modern world, but one that need a whole new chassis and totally different accessories. Of course if you can ignore the Pope and the magisterium then you can discard them and the landscape is littered with churches that have done exactly that. So why don’t they simply join an Episcopal church that might have some Catholics trappings that they are comfortable with and none of that teaching authority jazz that interferes with their own understandings? Or if no church currently teaches what they want then start their own? Especially since they believe they are being guided by the Holy Spirit and that they know better. Martin Luther was at least honest in understanding that his view of the nature of the church was at odds with the Catholic Church. They need to understand that even if they haven’t left the church there are in virtual schism. I have no desire that anybody leave the Catholic Church, only that they truly join it in its fullness.