It is understandable that mainstream media folks don’t quite “get it” when it comes to the papal resignation. You can’t expect them to be experts at everything, but it does annoy when they don’t bother to consult people who are experts.
One headline reads, “Catholic Church Leaderless”. Yes, in a way, but it the papacy is bigger than the individual who holds the office. The Pope is the Vicar of Christ. He is the steward of the kingdom–not the king. When a pope dies or resigns it is more like the resignation of an English Prime Minister. The Prime Minister goes. The monarch still reigns. The Catholic Church isn’t “leaderless”. The Prime Minister has resigned.
Furthermore, the papacy is not an office separated from the rest of the church. The Pope has resigned, but the Cardinals are still there. The Archbishops and Bishops are in place. There is plenty of leadership, and for all the talk of “absolute monarchy” and “The Power of the Vatican” the real power of the Catholic Church is diffused down through the dioceses and parishes to an extraordinary degree.
Another headline crowed, “Ratzinger is no Longer Infallible!” The subext was, “God’s Rotweiller got the top job and suppressed all dissent in a ruthless way and at last he has fallen! Yay!” Not smart. Ratzinger was never infallible, and he made it clear that he often spoke as a private theologian and not as pope. As such, in Ratzinger did anything about infallibility of the pope he downplayed it and limited its role as never before.
Furthermore, Ratzinger was never infallible as Joseph Ratzinger. He only had the authority to speak infallibly within the office of the papacy. It is the papacy which is infallible–not a particular individual. When a particular individual as pope–speaks infallibly he does so as a mouthpiece of the whole church and as the Vicar of Christ–not as Joseph Ratzinger or Karol Wojtyla or anyone else.
As many atheists disbelieve in a God which Christians also don’t believe in, so an awful lot of people repudiate an idea of the papacy that Catholics don’t believe in either.