The Brothers Ratzi
More than anything, though, the shot underlines the strong bond the Pope enjoys with his one living relative, his older brother Msgr Georg Ratzinger. The two were ordained priests together in 1951, share a deep affinity for music (the Papstbruder served for many years as director of the famed choir of Regensburg Cathedral), and on next month's Bavarian homecoming, little brother Joseph has blocked out a private day with Msgr Georg at the home the former built on a cul-de-sac, which then-Cardinal Ratzinger was anxiously looking forward to retiring to.... For those who've forgotten, everything porcelain and feline decorates the house in the Regensburg suburb of Pentling. (The other Ratzinger sibling, Maria, served as her brother's housekeeper and companion until her death in 1991.)
Msgr Ratzinger -- known to some as "Georg the Elder" to distinguish him from Msgr Georg Ganswein, Benedict XVI's private secretary -- joined the Pope some weeks back for the duration of the summer respite at Castel Gandolfo. Contrary to the practice of the prior pontificate, when "everyone would be clawing to see the Pope" as soon as John Paul II arrived in Albano for the "public" portion of his summer after an excursion in the Alps, Benedict has kept true to his message at this past Sunday's Angelus that even the Pope needs downtime.
Illustrating this, only two senior prelates to date have been received in audience at the papal summer retreat; Cardinal Roger Etchegaray briefed the Pope last week on his visit to Lebanon as the specially-deputed papal legate, and Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re saw Benedict on Monday, ostensibly to restart the bishop-making machine for the fall. Not even the vacationing pontiff's hand-picked "Red Pope," Cardinal Ivan Dias, has been received since his recent arrival in the Eternal City.
The Pope will remain in the Alban Hills until he leaves for Bavaria on 9 September. The morning after Benedict returns from the five-day trip, the Apostolic Palace will quickly return to high gear as he introduces his new Secretary of State.