Retired pope’s elder brother
BERLIN — The Rev. Georg Ratzinger, the older brother of Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI who earned renown in his own right as a director of an acclaimed German boys’ choir, has died. He was 96.
The Regensburg diocese in Bavaria, where Rev. Ratzinger lived, said that he died Wednesday. His death came just over a week after Benedict made a four-day visit to Regensburg to be with his ailing brother.
Ordained on the same day as his brother, Rev. Ratzinger proved to be a talented musician and went on to oversee the recording of numerous masterpieces and concert tours around the world by the Regensburger Domspatzen, a storied choir that traces its history back to the 10th century. But his reputation was tarnished as he apologized for using corporal punishment to discipline boys.
The pope had his quarters in the Apostolic Palace modified with a special apartment for his brother, who traveled frequently from his home in the Bavarian city of Regensburg to Rome. Elected to the papacy in 2005, Benedict stepped down in 2013 and was succeeded by current Pope Francis.
The two came from a religious Catholic family, the sons of police officer Josef and Maria Ratzinger.
Born Jan. 15, 1924, in the Bavarian town of Altoetting, Georg Ratzinger showed an early talent for music, playing the church organ at age 11. The family eventually settled outside nearby Traunstein in 1937, where he and his brother joined the seminary.
Though the Ratzinger family was antiNazi, Georg Ratzinger was enrolled into the Hitler Youth in 1941. In his book “Salt of the Earth,” Benedict remarked on the time and his own subsequent enrollment at age 14.
In 1942, Rev. Ratzinger was drafted into a federal labor force, and the same fall entered the regular German armed forces as a radio operator in a signals unit. After serving in France, the Netherlands and Czechoslovakia, Ratzinger was sent in 1944 to Italy where he was wounded in fighting.
He was captured by U.S. forces and spent the rest of the war as a POW.
Rev. Georg Ratzinger