On Wednesday of this week, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, the older brother of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, passed away.
At age 96, the elder Ratzinger brother had recently been hospitalized in Regensburg, and in a visit that made international headlines, Joseph Ratzinger, the former pope, left Rome for the first time since his abdication to visit him there last month. It was expected at the time that it was likely to be their final meeting.
The two brothers were ordained together on June 29, 1951, in the Cathedral of Freising in their native Germany. Both brothers were also musicians, and Georg directed the choir in Traunstein for three decades before becoming the Kappelmeister of the cathedral choir at Regensburg.
In 2008, on the occasion of the mayor of Castel Gondolfo having granted to Georg an honorary citizenship, Benedict, who was pope at the time, said:
From the beginning of my life my brother has always been for me not only a companion, but also a trustworthy guide. 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.
You, Mr Mayor, with your beautiful words, have made me think back to years spent in Regensburg, where I listened to truly beautiful music in the cathedral, Sunday after Sunday; for me it was a comfort, a consolation, an intimate joy that reflected the beauty of God.
My brother has pointed out that since then, we have arrived at the last stage of our lives, at old age. The days left to live progressively diminish. But also in this stage my brother helps me to accept with serenity, with humility and with courage the weight of each day. I thank him.
The Pope Emeritus is now the last remaining member of the Ratzinger family alive at age 93. A Pontifical Requiem Mass will be offered for Msgr. Ratzinger on Wednesday, July 8, at the Regensburg Cathedral.
Eternal rest, grant unto him, O LORD,
And let perpetual light shine upon him.
May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have seven children.