Msgr. Ratzinger's new book recalls growing up with Pope Benedict XVI
By Benjamin Mann
A 1951 family photo with (L to R) Maria, Georg, Maria (mother), Joseph and Joseph Ratzinger, Sr. Photos courtesy of Ignatius Press
A 1951 family photo with (L to R) Maria, Georg, Maria (mother), Joseph and Joseph Ratzinger, Sr. Photos courtesy of Ignatius Press

.- Pope Benedict XVI's brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, is due to publish a memoir reflecting on his relationship of eight decades with the current successor of St. Peter.

“My Brother the Pope,” published by the Pope's official English-language publisher Ignatius Press, will be released worldwide on March 1. It features Msgr. Ratzinger's recollections of life with his brother Joseph, recorded for posterity in a collaboration with the journalist and historian Michael Hesemann.

Msgr. Ratzinger and his younger brother were born in 1924 and 1927, respectively. The Pope has described his older brother as a formative influence, saying in August 2008 that “from the beginning of my life, my brother has always been for me not only a companion, but a trustworthy guide.”

“For me he has been a point of orientation and of reference with the clarity and determination of his decisions,” the Pope said on that occasion, while granting his brother honorary citizenship for the papal residence Castel Gandolfo. “He has always shown me the path to take, even in difficult situations.”

The two brothers were ordained as priests on the same day in 1951. Georg Ratzinger combined his priestly calling with his musical talents, and spent three decades directing the renowned “Regensburger Domspatzen” boys' choir.

Joseph Ratzinger, meanwhile, pursued a career as a professor and theologian. This path would take him to the head of the Church's highest doctrinal office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which he led as cardinal prefect prior to his 2005 election as Pope.

In an exclusive advance excerpt provided to CNA, Msgr. Ratzinger recalls how the future Pope lived during his time as a young assistant pastor.

“He actually felt very much at ease in pastoral work,” he writes in chapter 7. “Above all, religious instruction suited him; he had the gift of presenting even the most difficult subjects so that they could be understood by the simpler children and yet still interested the more demanding students.”

“It gave him great joy. Even though during his first year he already had to take on nineteen sessions a week, he always went gladly into the schools as a religion teacher.”

“Every morning he sat for an hour in the confessional, on Saturdays for four hours. Several times a week he rode his bicycle across Munich to funerals, and he celebrated baptisms and weddings. In addition, he was in charge of the youth program in the parish.”

It was difficult, Msgr. Ratzinger says, for his brother to give up this assignment and devote himself to academic work as a seminary professor in Freising.

But this academic career “did not change him at all as a person … I would have noticed it immediately if he had become different in some way.”

“Our parents thought at first that once he was a professor he would be a bit pompous and talk down to people, but he was never like that; he always remained natural,” the Pope's brother writes.

In the same excerpt, Msgr. Ratzinger offers a classic picture of Bavarian Catholic life at mid-century, reminiscing about the day in 1953 when his brother received his doctorate in theology.

“At that time I was an assistant pastor at Saint Ludwig’s in Munich … and of course I was present when the whole process was concluded with a celebration.”

“The university employees, in uniform and each holding a staff, led off, and the rector and the deans were all wearing their robes. The young doctor had to give a lecture and defend his thesis, which he had composed in Latin, and all this took place in the auditorium of the university.”

“Our parents and our sister had come, too, and were rather impressed by the festive occasion. Afterward, being a young assistant pastor, I invited them to my lodgings in the rectory, and there was bratwurst and rolls and beer, and it all tasted wonderful to us.”

Tags: Pope Benedict

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

#PAUSEforPeace Initiative
#PAUSEforPeace Initiative
Dedicating art to San Juan de la Cruz
A state without territory elects new government
The renewal of the Legionaries of Christ
Presentation of the book "The Pastor"
Synod on the Family October 2014
Preferential option for the poor
God is alive, even in sport
'A forbidden God' named Best Film at the International Catholic Film Festival
Vatican backs a 'Pause for Peace' during World Cup final
The effects of religious violence in Sarajevo 
The origin of Corpus Christi 
Corpus Christi at the Vatican 
Homage to an Indian Cardinal
Train of the Child's Light
New book explaining gestures of the Mass
Encounter between Pope Francis and the Charismatic Renewal in the Spirit Movement.
Religious tensions subside amid Balkan floods
John Paul II Center for Studies on Marriage and Family
Saint John Paul II on cartoon

Liturgical Calendar

July 29, 2014

Saint Martha

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Jn 11:19-27


Daily Readings

First Reading:: Jer 14: 17-22
Gospel:: Jn 11: 19-27

Saint of the Day

St. Martha »


Homily of the Day

Jn 11:19-27


Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
Text only

Follow us: