I think of myself as a progressive person, open minded, believing in science, evolution, global warming, etc. Yet I am really annoyed by people dumping on the new pope as if he was the worst of all choices.
1: He was a hitler youth? All young boys and girls were automatically in that dubious organisation during WWII. It was mandatory.
2: He was a German soldier? True. When he was 16, Ratzinger was drafted into the German army. He deserted Hitlder's army in 1945 shortly before the end of the war. Desertion in time of war, in even the US army, was an offense that carried the death penalty.
3: He's an arch conservative right? Actually his career has been pretty moderate (for the Catholic Church). Benedict, like JP2, is not following the moral and ethical relativism of American conservatism. According to this Pope, premptive war is a sin, as is any form of capital punishment, unchecked capitalism, social injustice. He, like JP2, was an advisor at the 2nd Vatican Council and still defends its conclusions including Nostra Aetate, the document on respect of other religions and the declaration of the right to religious freedom.
4: But he wrote Dominus Jesu, where he says that those outside the Christian faith cannot attain salvation? This may come as a surprise but followers of Jesus Christ like to quote the man. He himself said, "I am the way and the life. He that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." and "No one comes to the Father accept through me." So from a Christian standpoint, and particularly a Catholic standpoint, the Pope isn't saying anything that should be too shocking.
Lastly Benedict is not JP2. He is not going to be a globe trotter. One Vatican official said it best, "We have to recover from a hurricane" refering to the affter effects of John Paul II's pontificate. Benedict is there to put the house in order and whatever else God wills.