Pope emeritus Benedict XVI has left the territory of the Vatican for the first time since his abdication in 2013 to go to Germany to be with his 96-year-old brother Fr Georg who is in poor health. He made the decision shortly after consulting with the Holy Father, Pope Francis.
A comunique from the Holy See confirmed that Benedict left Vatican City State this morning (Thursday) to travel to Regensburg in his homeland.
The 93-year-old – who was Pope from 2005-2013 – was accompanied by the deputy commander of the Vatican gendarmerie as well as his personal secretary Archbishop Georg Gänswein, his doctor and an assistant from the Memores Domini community.
A statement from the Diocese of Regensburg indicated that Benedict arrived in Munich at 11:45. He was greeted by Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer, who accompanied him to Regensberg, where he will reside at the diocesan seminary. The statement from the diocese asked the faithful to respect the wishes of the two brothers, who requested that the “deeply personal meeting remain private.” Hence no public appearances are anticipated.
According to Matteo Bruni, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Benedict will remain in Germany for “as long as necessary.”
The two Ratzinger brothers, born three years apart, were ordained priests on the same day, June 29, 1951, in the Cathedral of Freising.
Fr Ratzinger has been described as a gifted musician and was, for many years, musical director of St Peter’s Cathedral in Regensburg.
The only other sibling in the Ratzinger household, Maria, died in 1991 aged 70.