Sunday, June 28, 2009

My Brother George...

We all know so much about Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI), but most of us hardly know anything about his brother, Georg... So I thought we'd take a look into his life!

Georg Ratzinger was born in Bavaria to Joseph Ratzinger, Sr., a police officer. Early in his life he showed musical talent, playing the church organ already at the age of 11. In 1935 he entered the minor seminary in Traunstein and had professional musical instruction there. In 1941 he encountered for the first time the choir of the Regensburger Domspatzen, whose musical director he was to become later, when they performed in Salzburg on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Mozart's death.

In the summer of 1942 Georg Ratzinger was drafted into the German army. In 1944 he was wounded in battle in Italy. At the end of World War II, he was a POW of the U.S. Army in the vicinity of Naples, but was released, and arrived home in July 1945.

In January 1946 he entered, together with his brother Joseph (later Pope Benedict XVI), the seminary of the archdiocese of Munich and Freising to study for the priesthood. At the same time he pursued his musical studies.

He was ordained priest, together with his brother, in 1951, by Michael Cardinal von Faulhaber and afterwards studied Church Music in Munich, while serving in different priestly functions for the diocese.

Georg completed his studies in 1957 and became chorus director in his home parish in Traunstein. In February 1964 he was made musical director, Domkapellmeister, at St. Peters Cathedral in Regensburg, thereby becoming the chorus master of the Cathedral Choir, the Regensburger Domspatzen.

In 1967 he was named papal chaplain and in 1976 papal honorary Prelate. In that year the choir also celebrated its 1,000th anniversary. In 1981 Georg Ratzinger was awarded the Bundesverdienstkreuz of the Federal Republic of Germany. In 1994, he was named a papal protonotary.

Ratzinger retired from his position as director of the choir in 1994 and is since January 25, 2009 a canon in Regensburg.

In 2005, during a visit to his brother in Rome, worrying symptoms of heart failure and arrhythmia led to a brief admission at the Agostino Gemelli University Polyclinic.

There is unsourced speculation that his brother will name him a Cardinal, in that he is past 80 years of age and thus ineligible to participate in a conclave. The most recent papal relative to be elevated to the cardinalate was Giuseppe Pecci, a brother of Pope Leo XIII.