Retired pope's brother Ratzinger dies

The Regensburg diocese in Germany says Georg Ratzinger, brother of Pope Benedict XVI, has died.
The Regensburg diocese in Germany says Georg Ratzinger, brother of Pope Benedict XVI, has died.

The Reverend Georg Ratzinger, the older brother of Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI who earned renown in his own right as a director of an acclaimed German boys' choir, has died at the age of 96.

The Regensburg diocese in Bavaria, where Ratzinger lived, said that he died on Wednesday.

His death came just over a week after Benedict made a four-day visit to Regensburg to be with his ailing brother.

Ordained on the same day as his brother, Ratzinger proved to be a talented musician and went on oversee the recording of numerous masterpieces and concert tours around the world by the Regensburger Domspatzen, a storied choir that traces its history back to the 10th century.

But his reputation was tarnished as he apologised for using corporal punishment to discipline boys amid a wider investigation into sexual and physical abuse in the Church.

He remained extremely close to his brother throughout his career, expressing dismay when Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope that the stress would affect his health and that they would no longer spend so much time together.

The pope had his quarters in the Apostolic Palace modified with a special apartment for his brother, who travelled frequently from his home in the Bavarian city of Regensburg to Rome.

Elected to the papacy in 2005, Benedict stepped down in 2013 and was succeeded by current Pope Francis.

Australian Associated Press