Funeral planned Wednesday for retired pope’s elder brother

BERLIN (AP) — A funeral is to be held next week for the Rev. Georg Ratzinger, the older brother of Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, who died Wednesday at the age of 96.

The Regensburg diocese said Thursday that Ratzinger will be laid to rest in the Bavarian city’s Catholic cemetery Wednesday afternoon following a service held by Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer.

The acclaimed boys’ choir Ratzinger headed for several decades will stage a farewell concert Sunday. The public is invited to attend prayers in Regensburg Cathedral on Monday evening and to sign a book of condolences Tuesday.

The Regensburger Domspatzen choir, which traces its history back to the 10th century, toured the world under Ratzinger’s leadership, performing for Queen Elizabeth II and Pope John Paul II. But after his retirement from the post, Ratzinger apologized for using corporal punishment to discipline boys amid a wider investigation into sexual and physical abuse in the Church.

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Georg Ratzinger remained extremely close to his brother throughout his career, expressing dismay when then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope in 2005 that the stress would affect his health and that they would no longer spend so much time together.

Benedict made a four-day visit to Regensburg to be with his ailing brother just over a week before his death. The diocese said it wasn’t likely the retired pope, who is 93, would be able to make the trip from Italy again to attend the funeral.

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