Former pope Benedict XVI's ailing brother dies

Georg Ratzinger went on to conduct the 1,000-year-old Regensburg cathedral choir, known as the Regensburger Domspatzen.

Published: 01st July 2020 06:57 PM  |   Last Updated: 01st July 2020 06:58 PM   |  A+A-

Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI, right, walks with his brother priest Georg Ratzinger in Regensburg, southern Germany. (File photo | AP)


VATICAN CITY: Former pope Benedict XVI's brother has died aged 96, the Vatican said Wednesday, just over two weeks after the retired pontiff made an exceptional trip to Germany to see him.

Georg Ratzinger had been hospitalised in the Bavarian city of Regensburg where he lived.

Benedict, 93, visited last month after his brother's health deteriorated, marking his first trip out of Italy since his shock resignation in 2013.

The former pontiff, whose original name is Joseph Ratzinger, now lives in a small former monastery inside the Vatican.

He has largely stayed out of the public eye since he became the first pope in 600 years to resign, citing health reasons.

A traditionalist in the Catholic Church, he was replaced by reformist Pope Francis.

Benedict, who goes by the title pope emeritus, is now the only member of his family still alive, the Vatican News site said.

The brothers had enjoyed a "firm" bond, it said. Both were ordained priests on the same day in June 1951.

"From the beginning of my life my brother has always been for me not only a companion, but also a trustworthy guide," Benedict said of Georg in 2008, according to Vatican News.

"For me he has been a point of orientation and of reference with the clarity and determination of his decisions. He has always shown me the path to take, even in difficult situations".

Georg Ratzinger went on to conduct the 1,000-year-old Regensburg cathedral choir, known as the Regensburger Domspatzen. 

But the renowned choir fell under the shadow of the Catholic Church's child abuse scandal after a 2017 report found that more than 500 choir boys suffered sexual or physical abuse at the institute from 1945 to the early 1990s. 

The report criticised senior Church figures for failing to do enough to prevent the abuse, including Georg Ratzinger who led the choir from 1964 to 1994.

Ratzinger has said he knew nothing about the abuse at the school.


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