St. Patrick’s High School president not as surprised as others by resignation of Pope Benedict
Brother Konrad Diebold, president of St. Patrick High School in Chicago, stands next to a portrait of Pope Benedict XVI at the school. Diebold saw the pope during Benedict's papal visit to Washington D.C. in 2008. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 22, 2013 6:16AM
The Feb. 11 announcement by Pope Benedict XVI that he was resigning — the first pope to do so in hundreds of years — was a shock to some but not to all.
Brother Konrad Diebold, president of St. Patrick High School in Chicago, said the resignation announcement was not that big of a surprise to those paying attention.
The school serves students from Norridge, Harwood Heights, Elmwood Park, Franklin Park and Northlake.
“It’s very unusual,” he said, “but when (the pope) was asked a while back, he said if he felt he could not do the job, he would step down.
“That says something about the man.”
While the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI may not have come as a surprise to Diebold, the way the pope led was.
“His nickname was the Rottweiler of the Vatican,” Diebold said. “He was the guardian of theology, of the Church.
“As a Cardinal, he was adamant and inflexible about doctrine.”
As a pope, he showed a different side. He was, Diebold said, more nurturing, ministerial and paternal.
“But his role as Pope was different,” Diebold noted, than his position before that. Until Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI, he had been Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a post Pope John Paul II named him to in 1981. As such, he was often the person charged with defending and reaffirming church doctrine.
Diebold said the papacy really is a job, and he believes Pope Benedict XVI resigned because he felt he no longer could do the job.
“Leading the Roman Catholic Church is the ultimate responsibility,” Diebold added.
When he steps down at the end of the month, Pope Benedict XVI still will be a cardinal.
“But he’s too old to vote for his successor,” Diebold said.
Members of the College of Cardinals must be younger than 80 to be electors. The pope is 85, according to various accounts, although he may be as old as 87.
As speculation abounds as to the pope’s successor, Diebold said practicing Catholics believe in the providential workings of God.
“We have that connectedness to something bigger,” Diebold said. “We have the Trinity, and we pray for guidance.”
He noted Catholics have choices they need to make, but whatever happens is guided by Providence.
“We are not always uninfluenced,” he said with a smile.