Benedict XVI to Return to Rome June 22 After Visit with Ailing Brother in Germany

Christian Schaller, deputy head of the Pope Benedict XVI Institute, told Regensburg diocese that during the pope emeritus’ visit to his former home “memories awoke.”

Pope Benedict XVI hugs a boy during his weekly General Audience.
Pope Benedict XVI hugs a boy during his weekly General Audience. (photo: Vatican Media.)

 REGENSBURG, Germany — Pope emeritus Benedict XVI will return to Rome and the Vatican on Monday, according to the Diocese of Regensburg.

The former pope has been in Bavaria since June 18. He flew there from Rome to see his 96-year-old brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, who is in poor health.

The pope emeritus is staying in the seminary of the Diocese of Regensburg during his visit. At the time of his arrival, the date of his return journey had not been set.

According to Regensburg diocese, on Sunday morning the 93-year-old Pope Benedict celebrated Mass with his brother in Luzengasse. “And – if the strength allows – again in the second half of the day,” the diocese wrote. Pope Benedict plans to take the rest of the day off.

Archbishop Nikola Eterović, the apostolic nuncio in Germany, met the pope emeritus in Regensburg on Saturday. On Sunday morning in the Regensburg Cathedral, Archbishop Eterović said “it is an honor to greet the retired pope in Germany again, even in this difficult family situation.”

The nuncio said his impression during his meeting with Pope Benedict was “that he feels good here in Regensburg.”

According to the diocese, Archbishop Eterović thanked “the bishop, his co-workers, the Catholics in this beautiful city, but also all residents for this respect and friendship, so that the retired pope feels at home in this city and here in Bavaria. We are all connected as members of the Catholic Church. It’s a big family all over the world.”

Immediately upon his arrival in Regensburg around noon on Thursday, Pope Benedict went to see his brother, the diocese reported. The brothers celebrated Mass together at the house in Regensburg and the pope emeritus then traveled to the diocesan seminary in the afternoon to rest. In the evening, he returned to see his brother.

On Friday, the two celebrated Mass together for the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, according to a statement.

The former pope visited on Saturday the residence where he lived as “Professor Ratzinger” from 1970 to 1977.

His last time seeing the home was during his 2006 pastoral trip to Bavaria. Pentling is just outside Regensburg.

The diocese said Pope Benedict XVI then stopped at the Ziegetsdorf cemetery to spend time in prayer at the graves of his parents and sister.

Christian Schaller, deputy head of the Pope Benedict XVI Institute, told Regensburg diocese that during the pope emeritus’ visit to his former home “memories awoke.”

“It was a trip back in time,” he continued.

Pope Benedict stayed at his Pentling home and in its garden for about 45 minutes, and was reportedly moved by old family portraits.

During his visit to the cemetery an Our Father and Hail Mary were prayed.

“I have the impression that the visit is a source of strength for both brothers,” Schaller said.

According to the Diocese of Regensburg, “Benedict XVI is traveling in the company of his secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, his doctor, his nurse and a religious sister. The Pope emeritus made the decision to travel to his brother in Regensburg at short notice, after consulting with Pope Francis.”

Msgr. Georg Ratzinger is a former choir master of the Regensburger Domspatzen, the cathedral choir of Regensburg.

On June 29, 2011, he celebrated his 60th anniversary as a priest in Rome together with his brother. Both men were ordained priests in 1951.

He is the retired pope’s last living family member. Their father died in 1959 and their mother in 1963. Their older sister Maria, who never married, managed Benedict’s household until her death in 1991.

Pope Francis waves to pilgrims during his Angelus address August 30, 2020.

Pope Francis: The Path to Holiness Requires Spiritual Combat

Reflecting on Sunday’s Gospel, the pope said that “living a Christian life is not made up of dreams or beautiful aspirations, but of concrete commitments, in order to open ourselves ever more to God's will and to love for our brothers and sisters.”