Monday, May 15, 2006

My Brother The Pope

Here is Msgr Georg Ratzinger's interview in Süddeutsche Zeitung. The love between two brothers is evident. Hat tip to Amy at Open Book and Papa Ratzi forum.

SZ: Mr. Ratzinger, would you disclose to us, what you pray for?

Ratzinger: I would have liked not to be asked that privately. First of all, anyone prays for his own matters of concern, for health, for the relatives, the brother, but also for general purposes, concerning Church and State. Everything that causes concern, that’s what you pray for. But praying does not only consist in Begging, but also thanking.

What has changed in the year, since your brother became Pope?

Primarily, that he does no longer come for a visit. Formerly he used to come four times a year. A priest or a bishop is never fully a private citizen, due to his rank and prestige, he always is on duty. But as far as the daily routine was concerned, privacy was mainly given. Now he certainly does not come anymore.

Recently, when you were admitted to hospital, the news was given to every press agency.

People in the hospital thought that in order to avoid rumours it would be better to make the news public. So it was featured even in the smallest newspaper (Dorfblattl). This time I was admitted for four days, because I had water between the lung and the pleura and also in the legs, this was put out beautifully. Since then I feel fine.

Then apart from the problem with the eyesight, there are no further problems regarding your health situation?

I have to be a bit careful with the heart. I have a pacemaker. But all of this is not that tragic. I exercise regularly on my home excercise-bycicle upstairs. Mostly I do it for only the length of a short Psalter. Anyway, I take rarely longer than [the recital of] a rosary and I do it always after lunch.

In April last year you were worried about your brother’s health.

Yes, but he makes a fresh impression. In former times, I always used to be the healthier person of both of us. He is reasonable he sees to it that he keeps in motion. With both his secretaries he goes for a walk and when walking they pray the rosary. And in the evenings he finishes his work relatively early. At 7 p.m. the audiences are over, then he prays the breviary, at 7.30 p.m. they have dinner, at 8 p.m. they watch the Italian newscast and after that they go for another walk. Then he prays the rest of breviary and goes to sleep. In the evenings, he cannot work anymore he just gets nothing together then. Insofar he leads a fairly orderly live and looks after / sees to his forces.

Does it bother you that you are always asked about your brother?

Well, personally I am not so interesting. What is interesting about me is my brother. This does not bother me. Just when people call and want something from my brother, or that I should arrange something with my brother, then I am annoyed. This happens very often.

What do these people want?

Generally, that I hand over letters or they want me to make private audiences possible. For reasons of experience, I do not respond to these wishes.

Have you alienated yourself from your brother, since he is Pope?

No. We are on the phone every week. Most of the time he calls me, because I am the one who is more easily reachable. With the help of a friend, I had a special telephone installed. When that rings, I know that my brother is on the line.

In these phone calls, is there any theological exchange?

Our conversations are not that long. We talk more about our personal things – what we have experienced, how we are doing, what the weather is like. It is more day to day things.

Do you talk about his clothing, the red shoes, the Kamauro?

I did ask him about the Kamauro. He said: Mei, I put it on because of the cold. Or some people have noticed he had new glasses then I ask him about it. He himself does not say anything as far as that is concerned. Regarding appearances, my brother does not talk it.

Could you please describe to us, what it is like when you visit him in Rome?

The Papal Family consists of the Pope, both the secretaries and the four Memores (sisters). It is with them that I take in the meals. My room is on the 5th floor, the papal rooms are on the 4th floor. Since, due to my problems with the eyesight, I am no longer able to read myself, I have someone who reads to me in the morning and in the afternoon.

What is it that you have yourself read?

What I choose to. The last thing we had was Golo Mann’s “History of the 19th century”. This book we already started when my brother still used to come to Regensburg for a visit. It is a rather thick book, very interesting. Or I have them read a book by an evangelical theologian on subjects regarding the Old Testament. In the meantime, when nobody reads me anything, that’s when I listen to CD’s. At home I have reading devices; in Rome I do not have them that is why there I am relying on people reading me something or listening to CD’s. Otherwise on a mental level, I would feel empty.

Do you celebrate Mass?

In the house chapel. My brother is the main celebrant and both the secretaries and I are the concelebrants. That’s very nice.

Did you ever consider moving to Rome?

No. This is something that at my age I won’t do. Here I have my beautiful apartment and I am known to people here. And the time I spent in the Vatican with my brother is not that long either. If I was there forever, I would consider myself a burden.

When did Joseph Ratzinger stop to be your younger brother?

That was through even before the war, in puberty. I never wanted to have the prerogative. I was not vain about something and my brother also was not. We were already like that as children. Everyone had his own thing and was treated in the same way by the parents. We have never had anything against each other.

Would you become a priest again today, if you were 20 or 25 years of age?

No doubt. I say yes to my decision to become a priest without hesitation rückhaltlos. Apart from that, God could not have given me anything better than Church music at the Regensburg Dom with the Regensburg Domspatzen. But I would have been ready to fulfil my service in other fields, such as being a pastor in a parish, or a pastor in a prison or a pastor in the Military. But the loving God did a good thing.

Did you ever feel lonely?

At the beginning of my time as Domkapellmeister in Regensburg, I was happy to have my siblings around. It was not easy, to come to this post as a young musician and be accepted straight away a hundred per cent by the old guard. But apart from that, I never had a bad time in my life. When you are surrounded by young people the whole day long it so happens that you are happy to be alone in the evening.

No Midlife Crisis?

No. I believe that for this we were much too sober. I will tell you what for someone like me posed a problem: Once a priest in pension resided in the apartment underneath and I was only allowed to rehearse and play the piano until 10 p.m. When at 10.05 p.m. I was still rehearsing his cook was bumping with the broomstick against the ceiling. These were our problems. But I am happy for every day that is behind me. I would not like to be young today.

Pope-Beer, a Pope-Teddy bear, a Pope-song – this reminds one of the cult regarding a leader in the Antique, don’t you think?

It looks like a cult surrounding a person und up to a certain degree it certainly is. But on the other hand, people would like to see a new trade-mark that is making an impact. It is all about commerce. It is not ideal. But when poor people make a little money in this way, in God’s Name, so be it. I am not grudging somebody something. But with those who do not really need it, it is more misuse.

You are not saying you are not a Conservative. And you also have sympathies for CSU [Edmund Stoibers political party]?

Yes. But I also have reservations regarding the CSU. Donum Vitae for example is subsidized while Caritas is not. They pretend as if Donum Vitae was the consultation forum of the Church, which is not the case. It is by means of Donum Vitae that something is made possible that the Church would like to avoid – legal abortion – because they issue these certificates of consultation and thus access to legal abortion.

But anyway you keep tending towards CSU?

Yes. But there are couple of good Social Democrats (Sozis), but with the SPD you can still see the eggshells of Marx.

Which Pope do you most admire?

I admire Leo the Great because of his texts that are proof of a great theological depth. Leo went to meet with Attila, the king of the Huns in full ornate. He has forced him to turn back.

Interview: Rudolf Neumeier


Blogger Carmel said...

that was really interesting. Awww his brother doesnt come visit anymore! I have never found much out about the Pope's brother apart from hearing he was unwell.
Thanks =)

9:43 PM  
Blogger Saint Peter's helpers said...

You're welcome Carmel. It's interesting to hear about the two Ratzinger brothers!

6:33 PM  

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