Hundreds of people filled the main square of the small German town of Marktl am Inn, where Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, was born 78 years ago. The Pontiff’s relatives joined in the local celebrations.
The Bavarian town of only 2,800 people was dotted with hundreds of white and yellow flags of the Vatican and pictures of the new Pope. According to Father Georg Ratzinger, the Pope’s brother, his election left him astonished. “He sat in front of the television and was speechless,” his housekeep, Agnes Heindl, told the DPA news agency.
Before his election, Cardinal Ratzinger saw his 81 year-old brother Georg three or four times a year. The two brothers attended the seminary of Traunstein and studied theology together and were ordained priests on June 29, 1951, in Freising.
While Joseph became a teacher, Georg studied music and directed the Children’s Choir of Ratisbona, which he brought to Rome in 1965 to perform for the two thousand bishops gathered for the Second Vatican Council. There he saw his brother again, who was working as a peritus, or theological advisor, during the Council.
Local residents of the Pope’s hometown said he has the qualities to lead the Catholic Church. “He will be an ideal Pope,” said 76 year-old Josef Winichner, a friend of the cardinal.
Honorary mayor Uwe Gschwendtner announced that “a great party in the town square will be celebrated to honor our new Pope.”