In the proffered class changes for Cataclysm, three new spells have been announced for Paladins: Blinding Shield, Healing Hands, and Guardian of the Ancient Kings, accompanying some other interesting changes such as combining Blessing of Might with Blessing of Wisdom, making Holy Shock and Crusader Strike core abilities for all Paladins, using Spirit as the mana-regeneration stat, and a new, talent-based Greater Heal.
What stood out to me were the proposed, if marvelously vague changes, allowing Paladins to be suitable group healers. Holy Paladins have three spells, Holy Shock and Flash of Light for quicker heals and Holy Light for better throughput. Healing Hands and Greater Heal expand the healing arsenal. A Holy Paladin could put Beacon of Light on the tank, use Healing Hands to help the group, and directly heal a secondary target. However, since Healing Hands necessitates close proximity, and lasts merely six seconds, the group healing may improve marginally, but I am not convinced it will be enough alter their perception as weak group healers. Obviously the Ultra-Uber-Heal does not help group healing.
Blizzard also alluded to the fact that healing two targets for the cost of one, as allowed by Beacon of Light, would be too powerful for Cataclysm. To balance that, they might either increase the cost of a Beacon-based healing, or restrict Beacon to certain heals. This seems, at least to me, a counter-intuitive methodology. One the one hand, group healing is being dangled in front of Paladins as the most desirable change, while on the other hand, certain tried and tested mechanisms are being penalized for fear of being too powerful, thereby nerfing the Holy Paladin.
Perhaps the concept will make better, more holistic sense with additional information, which obviously includes as yet unrevealed changes to Paladin class mechanisms.