Obituary for Georg Ratzinger: God grant him


July 5, 2020

The controversial pope brother Georg Ratzinger has died. For 30 years he was head of the Regensburger Domspatzen – and tolerated a system of violence.

There is a photo of Georg Ratzinger that has become almost historically relevant. It shows the later director of the world-famous Regensburger Domspatzen on June 29, 1951 in Freising Cathedral during the priestly ordination with his three years younger brother Joseph, later Pope Benedict XVI.

The two black-haired Bavarian men are festively dressed in baroque-style choir shirts and have stretched out their arms in blessing. The 27-year-old Georg, who survived the war as a Wehrmacht soldier, is beaming. His younger brother was only an anti-aircraft helper, he is concentrated and serious – and it is as if the future of the two Ratzingers is already hinted at in this black and white photo.

While Georg Ratzinger devoted his life to the cheerful muse and aspired to a musical career (in the seminary he was nicknamed “Organ Ratz”), Joseph Ratzinger became something of the deepest child prodigy of theology in Germany. After studying church music at the University of Music in Munich, Georg Ratzinger found his life’s work in 1964: he became “cathedral band master” and thus de facto head of the Regensburger Domspatzen for 30 years, which have a 1,000-year tradition.

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