Rorate Caeli

She wanted to convert. She listened to Cardinal Ratzinger and died a Lutheran.

Sigrid Spath was the most famous German translator in Rome. She worked in the Jesuit General House, and then in the Vatican, since the days of Paul VI and translated around 70,000 pages of documents from Italian, French, English, Spanish or Polish into German, as well as several texts by Joseph Ratzinger, as Cardinal or Pope, as he also wrote original texts in Italian. The granddaughter of a Lutheran pastor, Spath was born in Villach, Carinthia (Austria), on August 1, 1939 (that is, just one month before the war), and she died this Sunday, February 2, 2014, in Rome.

May she rest in peace.

Now, the information above comes from the Vatican Radio article (in German) on Sigrid Spath, from which we have chosen this remarkable excerpt:

Sigrid Spath translated in these cases [documents written by the Pope in Italian] the German Pope into German. One of her favorite books was Ratzinger's "Introduction to Christianity", dozens of copies of which she gave to Protestant students visiting Rome.

As Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger charged her personally with the German version of particularly sensitive documents, such as his response to the objections of Protestant theologians to the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification of 1999. It was also Cardinal Ratzinger who, according to her own testimony, advised Sigrid Spath to remain a Protestant, and not to convert to the Catholic Church, as she had considered in a moment of crisis. She could do more for both churches if she remained a Protestant, said the Cardinal. The Carinthian remained in the Protestant Christuskirche in Rome [the Evangelical-Lutheran community of Rome] throughout her life.

Benedict XVI visits Lutheran Christuskirche in Rome, Mar. 14, 2010:
no stand-alone altar in this church!

Note: Life-changing decisions should be avoided, if possible, in moments of distress and personal crisis, when reflection and meditation are impossible. But the justification presented by the Cardinal for why she should permanently remain a Protestant obviously influenced her in a permanent way, so that she felt compelled to declare it to others openly.

[UPDATE: Follow-up here.]