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Ratzinger accompanied his brother for four days, but the brothers had little private timeImage: picture-alliance / dpa

Pope's Brother: "He Hopes That It Will Be Sorted Out"

Mathis Winkler interviewed Georg Ratzinger
September 18, 2006

In his first interview since Benedict XVI's visit to Bavaria, the pope's brother talks about the trip, papal vacation plans and the pontiff's reaction to Muslim protests against his speech in Regensburg.


On Sunday, a Vatican flag with the papal coat of arms still flew outside Georg Ratzinger's home in the center of the Bavarian town of Regensburg, where Benedict XVI had visited his 82-year-old brother last Wednesday. Ratzinger, himself a priest and the former director of Regensburg's world-famous cathedral boys' choir, the Regensburger Domspatzen, will probably not see the pope until after Christmas, when he plans to travel to Rome again. But the brothers regularly talk on the phone, allowing Ratzinger to share Benedict's thoughts on the recent controversy surrounding the pope's speech at the University of Regensburg in this exclusive interview.

DW-WORLD.DE: How did you experience your brother's visit to Bavaria?

Georg Ratzinger: I expected everything to be very flustered and hounded. In fact, things turned out differently. It was solemn and somehow even cheerful, if I may say so. I was deeply moved.

Did you have a favorite moment?

Jahresrückblick September 2006 Deutschland Papst Benedikt in Deutschland Pentling am Grab seiner Eltern
The pope and his brother in front of the grave where their parents and sister are buried in RegensburgImage: AP

It was especially nice for me that we were allowed to be alone for about two hours in his house in Pentling, of course. He was tired and got some rest and we chatted a bit. That was nice. But it's trivial to emphasize this vis-à-vis the church services, which are quintessential for people and which grip people internally. I thought that all festivities were well prepared. They gave people an emotional religious experience, an experience of religious commitment. That's how I really experienced it.

The Bavarian bishops have asked the pope to spend his vacation in Bavaria in the future. Do you think that's possible?

I've heard that several vacation spots have been checked -- mainly in South Tyrol, where we frequently spent our vacation. All of them didn't work out because of the people that are responsible for security. There were shortfalls everywhere that made the security people say: This is not acceptable. I think that the vacation in the Aosta valley -- in relative solitude and with a very good and healthy climate -- has worked out well. I don't expect that his vacation will be moved to Bavaria.

Have you talked to your brother since his return to Rome?

We have talked on the phone.

Has he talked to you about the controversy surrounding his speech at the University of Regensburg?

Papst-Bruder Georg Ratzinger
Georg RatzingerImage: picture-alliance / dpa

He mentioned it briefly. Of course he regrets that Muslims have reacted like that and have completely misunderstood him. It's not his opinion. He would never hold such a view. It's the quote of a man, who lived 500 years ago. Naturally, it's a grotesque misunderstanding that it was taken out of context and presented as if it were his opinion. But he hopes that it will be sorted out and understood when he explains the situation correctly -- and that it won't have consequences for mutual relations.

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