MUNICH (Reuters) – Georg Ratzinger, the brother of former Pope Benedict who nurtured a very close relationship over decades to his sibling, has died at the age of 96 in the German town of Regensburg on Wednesday, the local archdiocese said.
In June, Benedict, aged 93, had spent five days in his native Germany to visit his ailing brother, who was also a priest.
It was the first time that Benedict left Italy since 2013, when he became the first Pope to resign in six centuries.
Benedict was not present when his brother died because he had returned to Rome earlier, the archdiocese’s spokesman Clemens Neck said. “He died at his house in Regensburg today, surrounded by people close to him.”
Georg and Benedict entered a seminary where they both trained to be priests at the same time in January 1946, after both serving in the army before Nazi Germany’s defeat at the end of World War Two.
Even following Benedict’s elevation to the papacy in 2005, they remained in close touch, with Georg telling the Welt am Sonntag newspaper that his brother would regularly phone him on a private phone whose number only the Pontiff knew.
(Reporting by Joern Poltz in Munich and Thomas Seythal in Berlin; editing by Maria Sheahan and Chizu Nomiyama)