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Germany

My Brother, the Pope

What happens when your brother takes on a new job and becomes the leader of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics? You would probably want to give him a call. But it's not that easy.

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Like two peas in a pod: the new pope and his brother Georg (right)

The brother of Pope Benedict XVI said Wednesday he was "very concerned" upon hearing that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had been elected as head of the Roman Catholic Church because of his age and frail health.

"I would have thought his advanced age and his health which is not very stable would have been reason enough for the cardinals to pick someone else," said a visibly moved Georg Ratzinger, 81, in an interview on German television after the election of his 78-year-old brother.

"But the cardinals made their decision and that is the will of God," said Ratzinger, himself a priest from the Bavarian town of Regensburg. "I got used to the idea during the night but it is still overwhelming."

Ratzinger, who did not believe his brother was likely to be elected leader of the Catholic Church because of his advanced age and his German nationality, knows very well that pontificate is a not an easy burden to bear.

"We will still have close ties but we will be much less in contact," he said.

Saintly help needed?

Regensburg Altstadt mit Dom Sankt Peter

Regensburg with the cathedral on the right

Ratzinger did not have a chance to speak to his brother after the election, but is hoping he could reach him by phone in the next few days, especially once the media hullabaloo subsides.

Hopefully, the lines won't be busy for too long. And if they are, perhaps Ratzinger should try to get on the good side of the Archangel Gabriel, patron saint of telecommunications, whose statue is prominently displayed in the Regensburg Cathedral.

Since he's also the angel of mercy, Gabriel would no doubt be willing to help. And from then on, it's all up to the smooth operator: "This is the Holy See. How may I direct your call?"

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