Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, the older brother of Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, who earned renown in his personal proper as a director of an acclaimed German boys’ choir, has died at 96.
The Regensburg diocese in Bavaria, the place Ratzinger lived, stated in an announcement on his web site that he died Tuesday. His loss of life got here simply over every week after Benedict made a four-day go to to Regensburg to be together with his ailing brother.
Ordained on the identical day as his brother, Ratzinger proved to be a proficient musician and went on oversee the recording of quite a few masterpieces and live performance excursions all over the world by the Regensburger Domspatzen, a storied choir that traces its historical past again to the 10th century. However his repute was tarnished as he apologized for utilizing corporal punishment to self-discipline boys amid a wider investigation into sexual and bodily abuse within the Church.
He remained extraordinarily near his brother all through his profession, expressing dismay when Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope that the stress would have an effect on his well being and that they’d now not spend a lot time collectively.
The pope had his quarters within the Apostolic Palace modified with a particular condominium for his brother, who traveled regularly from his house within the Bavarian metropolis of Regensburg to Rome. Elected to the papacy in 2005, Benedict stepped down in 2013 and was succeeded by present Pope Francis.
The 2 got here from a spiritual Catholic household, the sons of police officer Josef and Maria Ratzinger, and nice nephews of the German politician Georg Ratzinger, a priest and social reformer who was a member of the Bavarian and Federal parliament.
Born Jan. 15, 1924 within the Bavarian city of Altoetting, Georg Ratzinger confirmed an early expertise for music, enjoying the church organ at age 11. The household ultimately settled exterior close by Traunstein in 1937, the place he and his brother joined the seminary. Throughout World Warfare II, Ratzinger instructed The Related Press in an interview that he remembered huddling with the blinds drawn together with his youthful brother and father listening to Allied radio broadcasts, as a result of their father wished them to know the reality in regards to the Nazi regime.
Although the Ratzinger household was anti-Nazi, Georg Ratzinger was enrolled into the Hitler Youth in 1941. In his ebook, Salt of the Earth, Benedict remarked on the time and his personal subsequent enrollment at age 14. Official particulars of the boys’ Hitler Youth days now not exist, as the entire group’s archives for the world had been burned forward of the American advance on the finish of the struggle.
In 1942, Ratzinger was drafted right into a federal labor power, and the identical fall entered the common German armed forces as a radio operator in a indicators unit. After serving in France, the Netherlands and Czechoslovakia, Ratzinger was despatched in 1944 to Italy the place he was wounded in combating.
He was captured by U.S. forces and spent the remainder of the struggle as a POW, returning to Traunstein in July 1945 — a day the then-Joseph Ratzinger recalled in his memoir Milestones, remembering that the household had no concept if Georg had been alive or useless.
“A quiet fear hung over our home…” he wrote. “Immediately, on a scorching July day, we steps had been audible and he whom we had missed for thus lengthy was once more standing in our midst, tanned from the Italian solar. Then he sat down on the piano, grateful and relieved, and intoned ‘Holy God We Reward Thy Title.’”
Following the struggle, the brothers entered the seminary of the archdiocese of Munich and Freising to check for the priesthood. They had been ordained collectively on June 29, 1951, within the Cathedral at Freising on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul.
After working his method up as priest within the area, Georg Ratzinger was appointed musical director of St. Peters Cathedral in Regensburg in 1964, turning into the conductor of the famed cathedral choir, the Regensburger Domspatzen.
As head of this world-renowned choir, whose identify means “Cathedral Sparrows,” Ratzinger helped construct its repute all over the world, operating excursions that included journeys to the Vatican, the USA, Canada, Poland and Japan and performances for Queen Elizabeth II and Pope John Paul II.
However nicely after his retirement from the put up, revelations of sexual and bodily abuse on the choir haunted him.
In 2010, Ratzinger apologized for utilizing corporal punishment to self-discipline boys within the choir, saying he was conscious of allegations of bodily abuse at an elementary college linked to the choir however did nothing about it.
“In the beginning I additionally repeatedly administered a slap within the face, however at all times had a nasty conscience about it,” Ratzinger instructed the Passauer Neue Presse, including that he was blissful when corporal punishment was made unlawful in 1980. “After all, at present one condemns such actions; I do as nicely. On the similar time, I ask the victims for pardon.”
He claimed he was utterly unaware of allegations of sexual abuse, which he stated dated from earlier than his tenure as choir director.
“This stuff had been by no means mentioned,” Ratzinger stated. “The issue of sexual abuse that has now come to gentle was by no means spoken of.”
His relationship together with his brother at all times performed a particular position in his life.
Ratzinger as soon as lamented in an interview that his brother’s position as pope would imply “household life is likely to be a bit extra restricted” and acknowledged that he “had hoped that the cup would go him by.”
Nonetheless, Georg traveled to the Vatican for his brother’s set up, and was given a distinguished seat on the basilica esplanade.
Whereas visiting the pope in August 2005, Ratzinger was hospitalized in Rome due to an irregular heartbeat and had a pacemaker implanted. Benedict visited him whereas he was within the hospital.
In October of that 12 months, the brothers acquired collectively once more. “Sanctus,“a bit Georg Ratzinger composed was performed at a Vatican live performance for the pope and sung by the Domspatzen, whereas each brothers watched on collectively.
As Ratzinger’s well being failed, his brother got here to Regensburg in mid-June to go to with him.
Benedict’s journey to Germany was his first journey exterior Italy in over seven years. Benedict greeted outdated neighbors and prayed at his mother and father’ grave. He stayed at a seminary throughout his journey, visiting his brother twice a day.
Ratzinger’s solely shut dwelling relative is Benedict. His sister Maria, died in 1991.