About ordaining women priests, I agree that the Pope is a little too conservative on that score. As a Catholic, I have absolutely no problem with it.
As far as allowing priests to marry - the Catholic Church is caught between a rock and a hard place. The "rock" is the fact that fewer and fewer good people are deciding to devote their life to Goad and their fellow man, making it difficult to have enough priests for all the churches and teaching posts around the world. Already standards for acceptance are such that men who should NEVER have been accepted into the priesthood manage to get in and defile their Church and their victims in gross misconduct.
The "hard place" is the principle that a priest should be entirely devoted to God, and to providing spiritual guidance to people. In return for this devotion, the church will take care of his material needs in terms of food and lodging. If a priest is allowed to marry, he will be distracted from his spiritual duties by his spouse, kids, the mortgage on the house, ensuring his kids education, etc. etc. These are all worldly matters that in some way force him to become selfish and materialistic. E.g. "I have to make enough money for the new car my wife wants - the house needs repairs - should I invest in stocks or bonds." etc. I agree that the priests should not have these materialistic worries, and thus agree with the Pope that the principle of priesthood celibacy and poverty is an important one for the spiritual good of the Church and its followers. This of course should also apply to women priests, should they be accepted.
So the "rock" is a practical limitation, and the "hard place" is a limitation based on principle. Which do you give in to? In the Christian faith (and in most faiths, for that matter), the answer given by scripture is very simple - you cannot allow your principles to be sacrificed in order to take the easy road, simply because the other path is too hard, or that you can't figure a way to get through it.
The problem MIGHT be solved, at least in part, by the acceptance of women priests. Their number would allow the Church to be more selective in the men that they accept, working harder to weed out the deviants. I see no great spiritual value or principle in the Bible that supports continuing to deny women priesthood.
The Pope's position on birth control is a similar situation. The practical problem is AIDS, an alarming birthrate among the poor populations of the world, and the fact that pre-marital sex is now the norm in today's society. On the other hand, the principle to be protected is monogamy and the sanctity of marriage. In my opinion, however, I see no spiritual penalty or biblical ban on the concept of the use of birth control between married couples. So should the pope relax on principle and go down the easy road by condoning birth control (including for unmarried people)? Would condoning birth control ipso facto condone extra-marital sex? Those are difficult questions to which I have no real answer to, and I can understand the Pope's dilemma.
I admire John Paul II
's strength of conviction, even if in some cases I think he is in error. I admire his desire to personally give guidance and spiritual comfort to the people of the world, evidenced by the tremendous number of trips he has done even in his frail health. He is a giant of faith and self-sacrifice, unfortunately trapped in an ailing body that can barely move. I will miss him when he leaves this world, and will be glad that God let us have him with us, for a while.
The only thing you should feel when shooting a terrorist: Recoil.