News stories about the papal election often bring up the topics of what Catholics are hoping for from the next pope. What direction should he take the Church in? What should he change?
Sometimes, though, people seem to think that the Pope can just decide to change essential Catholic teachings on controversial issues, especially moral issues like abortion and sexual morality.
But those teachings ultimately come from God, and the Pope has the task of being a prophetic voice to proclaim those teachings to the Church and the world. The Pope can't change basic moral principles. As new questions come up, such as in bioethics, the Pope can give guidance on how some procedures may or may not be compatible with basic moral principles. But he can't change those principles themselves.
The Pope gets his authority from Christ, who is the supreme Priest, Prophet and King. Like any prophet, though, he has to proclaim the truth even when there's opposition to it. In other words, the Pope can't take his direction from the latest polls. He has to look to Christ and the Gospel.