Franciscan Sister Recalls Visit with Pope Benedict XV

Sister JulieAnn Sheahan

February 07, 2023

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Renee Mirkes serving at St. Paul VI Institute reflects on memories of Pope Benedict while Cardinal Ratzinger.

In February of 2004, Dr. Hilgers, his wife, Sue and I had the privilege of meeting with prefects of several Curial offices. The highlight of those meetings was our visit with then Cardinal Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. Dr. Hilgers had just completed his medical textbook The Medical and Surgical Practice of NaProTechnology (over a thousand pages, weighing 8 pounds) and wanted to present the first copy to the Cardinal. After being ushered into one waiting room, then another, we finally entered the Cardinal’s office. The Cardinal greeted us so affectionately that we commented afterwards how he made us feel as if each was the only person on the planet. I will never forget this encounter. The power of the man’s presence pointed us to the cause for his joyful peace: Jesus Christ. I was convinced then and continue to believe now this man of God was a saint.

When Dr. Hilgers presented the Cardinal with his medical textbook and explained its foundations in his Catholic faith, the Cardinal held up the book and said: “NaProTechnology, a gift to the Church.” With tears streaming down his cheeks, Dr. Hilgers thanked the Cardinal and proceeded to discuss the Cardinal’s questions, all of which indicated he had taken the time to research Dr. Hilgers’ work beforehand. Needless to say, when Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Pope I’m quite sure you could hear our shouts of “viva il Papa” all the way to Rome.


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