When Benedict XVI said goodbye to his older brother and left for Rome two weeks ago, the Diocese of Regenburg said: “It is perhaps the last time that the two brothers, Georg and Joseph Ratzinger, will see each other in this world.”
“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.” – Benedict XVI
The words of the Diocese turned prophetic as yesterday Georg Ratzinger passed away at the age of 96 in Regensburg, after being hospitalized following a battle with poor health.
Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg in a statement praised the bond shared between the two brothers, saying that when he participated in Mass with he felt the Eucharist was “the source upon which they live.”
“One can only wish everyone such affection, such a fraternal togetherness, as witnessed in the relationship of the Ratzinger brothers. It lives on fidelity, trust, selflessness and a solid foundation: in the case of the Ratzinger brothers, this is the common, living faith in Christ, the Son of God.”
The Vatican website included a biography of Georg with his passing:
Born in Pleiskirchen, Bavaria, on 15 January 1924, Georg Ratzinger began playing the organ in the parish church when he was 11 years old. In 1935 he entered the minor seminary in Traunstein, but in 1942 he was conscripted into the Reichsarbeitsdienst (the Reich Labour Service), and later in the Wehrmacht, with which he also fought in Italy. Captured by the Allies in March 1945, he remained a prisoner in Naples for several months before being released and allowed to return to his family. In 1947, together with his brother Joseph, he entered the Herzogliches Georgianum seminary in Munich. On 29 June 1951, both brothers, along with about forty other companions, were ordained priests in the Cathedral of Freising by Cardinal Michael von Faulhaber. After directing the choir in Traunstein for thirty years, from 1964 to 1994, he became the Kappelmeister of the cathedral choir of the Regensburg, the “Regensburger Domspatzen”. He toured the world conducting numerous concerts, and directed many recordings for Deutsche Grammophon, Ars Musici and other important record labels, with productions dedicated to Bach, Mozart, Mendelssohn and other composers. In 2011, he celebrated his 60th anniversary as a priest in Rome together with his brother. Both were ordained priests together in 1951.