Pope's Brother Turns 89

Marks Jan. 15 Birthday

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The Pope’s older brother, Georg Ratzinger, celebrated this week his 89th birthday.

Georg was born Jan. 15, 1924, at Pleiskirchen, in Bavaria.

Georg and his younger brother, Joseph, the future Benedict XVI, entered the Munich seminary together after the war in 1946. They were ordained together on June 29, 1951.

Georg Ratzinger pursued formation in music, becoming choirmaster at Traunstein in 1957, and then director of the voix blanches choir at Regensburg in 1964 — the «Regensburger Domspatzen.» He held this post until his retirement in 1994. 

In 1967 Father Georg Ratzinger received the honorific title of «monsignor.» He resides in the historic heart of Regensburg, and speaks regularly on the telephone with Benedict XVI. He comes to Rome on various occasions, sometimes for concerts. In the summer he spends some weeks with his brother, at the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo.

Monsignor Ratzinger released a book-length interview in 2011 (published in English in 2012) called «My Brother the Pope

The book includes many anecdotes of the boys’ life and priesthood, including the observation that Joseph always loved animals, and would receive stuffed animals for Christmas.

He somewhat dismantles, however, the legend of the «Pope’s cats.» Admittedly on Thursdays, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger celebrated Mass in the morning at the Campo Santo, German cemetery in the heart of the Vatican, and a cat awaited him in the cemetery every Thursday, wanting to be petted.

In regard to Chico, the cat of his Regensburg neighbor, M. Hofbauer, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger said that it is a “difficult animal, with two souls in his chest,” according to the expression of Goethe’s Faust.

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