As for “policy making power” it depends upon what you mean. There are doctrines based on divine revelation that are not determined by anyone here on earth. So for example, the doctrine of the Trinity is not a policy of the Pope to be enforced but a belief of the Church incumbent upon all Christian to believe. In the Catholic church we take very seriously the freedom of conscience. This does not mean exactly that you are free to think whatever you want and still be a catholic in good standing. But it also means that you cannot be forced to believe something or that you take something on blind faith either.
In general, a catholic owes allegiance to the pope as he or she does to his or her local bishop. That is, when a bishop issues a letter, homily, etc. it’s not a bad idea to listen to it as a matter of listening to one’s bishop who is exercising the teaching ministry of that office. But bishops do not issue proclamations by fiat as if they were a monarch (even though they often come across that way). There are certain times when what the Pope says—when he is speaking “from the seat of St. Peter” that such proclamations have the full weight of the church and require full submission. But in actuality, very few things have been proposed that way in the church despite the popular view that “whatever the Pope says or the Vatican issues we must believe or else.”