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Germany

Catholic Group Slams Costly Rome Mass for Pope's Brother

Plans for a costly mass in Rome to celebrate the birthday of Pope Benedict's elder brother have been criticized by a Catholic lay group in Germany, the weekly news magazine Focus reported Sunday.

Pope Benedict XVI and his brother Georg (right)

Georg Ratzinger (right) regularly visits his brother in Rome

Georg Ratzinger, a retired priest and the former music director of the world-famous Regensburg Cathedral Boys Choir, will celebrate his 85th birthday on Jan.15. He still lives in Regensburg.

The Catholic Diocese of Regensburg plans to spend 100,000 euros ($126,000) flying 90 boy choristers and 37 musicians to Rome to perform a Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart mass in the Sixtine Chapel in the Vatican especially for him. Ratzinger reportedly chose the Mozart mass when asked what he would like for this birthday.

His younger brother Joseph, 81, has his private house and garden in a suburb of the Bavarian city, but has only been back once since becoming pope.

Sigrid Grabmeier, deputy chairwoman of a liberal Catholic lay group We Are the Church in Regensburg Diocese, criticized the use of diocesan funds for the event.

She said Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Mueller ought to have paid for the extravagant mass from his private funds.

Focus quoted a diocesan spokesman, Jakob Schoetz, saying the income came from rents and church tax, which is automatically deducted from church member's pay checks.

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