I haven't seen any of the specials. I'm basing off what I know, the evidence makes me assume that he was better than previous popes.
I'm 100% nonreligious. All the stuff you're pointing out, Alien, seems to be stuff on why religion is bad as opposed to why the pope was. Stuff like that birth control crap, I don't hate the pope for that, I hate the fact that people let their lives be controlled by a belief. I, personally, don't really think there should even be a pope, and if so than they should have less power. It's just this one seemed to be a tad more clear-minded than the other ones. I don't feel grief-stricken by his death or anything, I just acknowledge it. Mitch Hedberg's death, however, pisses me off a tad more.
There's no earthly way of knowing which direction we are going. There's no knowing where we're rowing or which way the river's flowing. Is it raining? Is it snowing? Is a hurricane a-blowing? Not a speck of light is showing, so the danger must be growing. Are the fires of hell a-glowing? Is the grisly reaper mowing? Yes, the danger must be growing 'cause the rowers keep on rowing, and they're certainly not showing any signs that they are slowing. AAAGGHHH!!!