Vatican Corner 07-05-2020

On June 18, 2020, retired Pope Benedict (93) received a greeting from Pope Francis , and then Benedict flew to Munich, Germany on an Italian air force jet, to see his ailing elder brother Georg Ratzinger (96) at their former home near Regensburg, Germany. It was reported that Georg’s health has recently deteriorated. Benedict traveled with his personal secretary, along with the deputy commander of the Vatican police, a doctor, a nurse, and with one of the consecrated women who work at his Vatican household. He was welcomed in German by the president of the German Bishop’s conference Bishop Georg Bätzing, who said he was pleased that “he, who had been a member of our bishop’s conference for a few years, has come home, although the occasion is a sad one.” The Diocese of Regensburg asked the public to leave this deeply personal brotherly encounter private as the two elderly brothers wished, and there would be not photos, public appearances, or meetings. The Ratzinger brothers are known to be close and George visited Benedict often at the Vatican. The two were ordained priests on the same day in 1951. Msgr. Georg Ratzinger was director of the renowned Regensburg boys’ choir from 1964 to 1994, when he retired. During the visit Benedict stayed at a seminary and he celebrated Mass each day with his brother, visiting him every morning and evening. Because of Georg’s health they could not talk very much. “It’s more about being there” said Diocesan spokesman Clemens Neck, who also said the visit had been invigorating for both brothers. While in Germany, the retired pope was transported in his wheelchair in a specially equipped van belonging to the medical service of the Knights of Malta.
Benedict also used his visit home to pray at the graveside of his father, mother and sister Maria, who ran his household in Rome when he was a cardinal. He also visited the house where he lived as a professor from 1970 to 1977 and which he used for vacations away from the Vatican. It is now a
museum and study center. Benedict said that since his birth, his older brother “has been for me not only a companion, but also a reliable guide.” “He has always represented a point of reference with the clearness and determination of his decisions.” Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer said “it may be the last time that the two brothers, Georg and Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict) will see each other in this world.” He added that those who wish to express their sympathy “are cordially invited to say a silent prayer for the two brothers.” Benedict returned to Rome after his 5 day visit.