Question #1: What's the Pope's job exactly? Is he the equivalent of the president and the cardinals the equivalent of the governors of every state?
The Pope is firstly the Bishop of Rome. Bishops preside over dioceses or archdioceses, like our handout explains. So for example, Bishop Loverde presides over the diocese of Arlington, to which our parish belongs. Cardinal Wuerl is the archbishop who presides over the archdiocese of Washington DC. Like the handout says, an archdiocese is a territory that functions the same as a diocese but is determined more by its historical significance than geographical. For example, if Washington DC was not the capitol of the U.S., it’s possible that this territory would be part of the Arlington Diocese or part of the Diocese of Maryland.
The Pope’s job is that of Bishop. In addition, the Papal Office is charged with the ministry of unity. Based partly on tradition, the Bishop of Rome has held extra sway in trying to decide major issues for the church as a whole. And thus, he has come to be seen as “the first among equals.” He is like the president in the sense of leadership and responsibility. But he is unlike the president in the sense that he is not elected by popular campaign amongst all the nations or dioceses of the world. The cardinals are not equivalent to governors. They are more like members of the electoral college, since among their other administrative and advisory duties in the curia (the Vatican administration) they are the ones who go through the selection process for Pope.
AMERICA MAGAZINE has a list of Q&A regarding Papal Transition available here: http://americamagazine.org/papal-transition