You definitely don't have to be a believer to think that the Pope is one of the most influential people on earth. The catholic church is a huge political player in South/Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia
In America, Roman Catholics use birth control, have abortions, and vote for abortion at the same rate as the national averages. In Europe, fewer than ten percent of Catholics attend mass at least once a week. I think his influence is overstated. He is, however, the most famous person who won't (can't, actually) ride along with the popular notions of the day, so he's a great scapegoat for pseudo-thinkers who lazily float along with modern trends.
Despite calls for change, bears still shit in the woods, and the Pope is still Catholic, even if most Catholics aren't.