Pope Francis has expressed his “deepest sympathy and spiritual closeness” to Benedict XVI following the death yesterday of the Pope Emeritus’ brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger.

“You were kind enough to tell me first the news of the death of your beloved brother Msgr. Georg,” the Pope wrote in a statement issued on Wednesday. “At this time of mourning, I would like to express to you my deepest sympathy and spiritual closeness.”

The Pope assured the Pope Emeritus of his “prayer for the deceased, so that the Lord of life, in His merciful goodness, may receive him into His heavenly homeland and grant him the reward prepared for the faithful servants of the Gospel.”

He also said he would pray for Benedict, “invoking from the Father, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the strength of Christian hope and tender divine consolation, in constant union in the Risen Christ, the source of hope and peace.”

Meanwhile, a pontifical requiem for Msgr. Ratzinger will take place at Regensburg’s cathedral of St. Peter at 10 a.m. local time on Wednesday July 8, attended by Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg, the diocese announced on Thursday. 

The burial will then take place at 12:30 p.m. at the grave of the Regensburger Domspatzen, in the city’s Lower Catholic Cemetery. 

A diocesan spokesman told the Register that they so far have “no information” that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI will attend the funeral, but Benedict’s personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, will be present.

“We would welcome it very much if he were to attend, it would be honor for us to have him there, but so far we have not heard anything,” spokesman Clemens Neck said. 

On Sunday at 3 p.m., the Domspatzen choir which Msgr. Ratzinger directed for 30 years until 1994, will bid him farewell during a concert of funeral vespers. Some 220 choristers will take part. 

The concert will not be public, but can be followed via livestream (www.bistum-regensburg.de). The funeral requiem will also be livestreamed on Wednesday, but because of COVID-19, only a limited number of seats are available.

The diocese has created an online book of condolence which can be signed here.