The Cardinals and others who appointed Ratzinger to be Pope did so in hopes that he would return the Catholic Church to a more conservative, insular status. Pope John Paul was, for Catholicism, very liberal and he made the Church more "worldly" as a way of genuinely helping more people of more backgrounds. Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, is just the opposite and has a strong background of being a dick. However, though he has made it his mission to de-secularize the Catholic community, he has made some small but rather drastic changes:
1) He forgave the Beatles for saying that they were bigger than Jesus. When John Lennon said that, he was saying that they were more popular than Jesus and, according to the thousands of people who thought that the Beatles could HEAL them, he was right. When Pope Benedict forgave the Beatles, while replacing Pope John Paul's "modern" music (Christian rock) with traditional Gregorian chanting, he took a large step into the mundane and secular world. Ringo Starr aptly pointed out that the Vatican has more important things to worry about.
2) The Church, for the past century, has been adamantly opposed to artificial birth control. Every sperm is sacred, every sperm is great; if a sperm is wasted, God gets quite irate. It's a good little Catholic's mission to breed as many Catholics as possible and birth control impedes that. And because the Church is opposed to homosexuality, gay people shouldn't even be doing anything that would require birth control anyway. Pope Benedict, however, recently declared that birth control should be used as a safety measure in certain circumstances as long as it wouldn't prevent pregnancy. A gay prostitute should use a condom to protect himself from AIDS! Whoa!
3) Pope Benedict has now theorized that God was behind the Big Bang. This isn't a new concept, but it's a big deal for a Pope to concede that the science of how the universe came into being could be correct if God is behind it. Catholicism and science have never really gotten along, so this is another issue of Pope Benedict bridging the gap between the Church and the secular world.
The Church has been, for centuries, incredibly slow to change. Vatican II was uncharacteristic, to say the least, and took a monumental effort. In fact, the changes of Vatican II weren't as important as the fact that the Church admitted that it needed to change! That admittance was unprecedented in the oldest social organization existing today. Many people, clergy and lay and non-Catholic, have opined that a Vatican III should take place - especially considering the sex scandals. That's incredibly unlikely, even just considering how slowly the Church processes anything.
Pope Benedict's few changes, however, especially made by someone who was such a stalwart of Catholic elitism for so long, imply that more is going on within the Church than we know. If the hierarchy thought that they were desperate for new members in the 90's (see Sister Act 1 & 2), they must be flogging themselves now just to keep who they have. The sex scandals are turning away everyone except for the people who are too poor to have anything but the Church. The Pope's changes may seem trite to us, but they're drastic cries for help by the Church.