MADRID — Pope Benedict XVI’s older brother explained that the Holy Father’s decision to step down from the chair of Peter is for the good of the body of Christ because he had become too weak to carry out his ministry.
“It is a beneficial decision for the Church,” said 89-year-old Msgr. Georg Ratzinger in a published interview with the Spanish daily newspaper ABC, published on Feb. 17.
“He no longer has strength,” Msgr. Ratzinger observed. “He is going through the natural process of aging, like I am as well.”
He said that the Holy Father had cited his advanced age in informing him that he planned to resign.
“My brother wants more peace for his old age,” he explained. “As you get older, your strength begins to fade.”
“In addition, he has had to confront difficult tasks, which he has done as much as he can,” the Pope’s brother said. “It was simply a decision that was made. It’s the natural course of life, and nobody escapes from it.”
Asked how he thinks the Holy Father will be remembered, Msgr. Ratzinger said he hopes his brother will be seen “as a Pope who strove to deepen and spread the faith of the Church with all of his strength,” as well as someone who provided “an example of a life of belief guided by the faith.”
He added that Catholics should “thank God for having entrusted the last few years to a good Pope, and pray that he will send us another good leader of the Church.”
In an impromptu press conference shortly after the Pope announced his resignation on Feb. 11, Msgr. Ratzinger said that his brother “is not to be a full-time retiree.”
Once he steps down at the end of the month and moves into a former monastery on the Vatican grounds, Pope Benedict is “not going to sit around waiting for the day to end,” he explained.
He added that he hopes to have more one-on-one time with his brother in the future, hopefully at Benedict XVI’s new residence.
“They’ll probably have a room there for me,” he said, discounting any possibility of the Pope returning to Germany in the near future.