By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service
Pope Benedict XVI said he is living his old age with serenity thanks to the example and companionship of his older brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger.
"From the beginning of my life, my brother was always not just a companion, but also a trustworthy guide," the 81-year-old pope said Aug. 21 as his 84-year-old brother was proclaimed an honorary citizen of Castel Gandolfo.
"We have arrived at the last stage of our lives, old age," the pope said.
"The days left to live progressively decrease, but in this stage as well, my brother helps me to accept with serenity, humility and courage the weight of each day. I thank him," Pope Benedict said.
At a brief evening ceremony in the courtyard of the papal summer villa in the town south of Rome, Mayor Maurizio Colacchi said Msgr. Ratzinger's presence in Castel Gandolfo "alongside your beloved brother during the summer season fills us with tenderness and, at the same time, pride."
While Msgr. Ratzinger lives in retirement in Regensburg, Germany, where he was the longtime director of the Regensburg boys choir, he spends summers with Pope Benedict both at Castel Gandolfo and in the northern Italian Alps.
The pope and his brother were in the seminary together after World War II and were ordained priests at the same Mass in 1951.
Their father, a policeman, died in 1959; their mother died in 1963. Their sister, Maria, never married and ran the future pope's household in Rome until her death in 1991. The three are buried in Pentling, Germany, where the pope and his brother own a house.
At the summer ceremony honoring his brother, Pope Benedict said, "For me, he has been a point of orientation and of reference with the clarity and determination of his decisions. He always has shown me the path to take, including in difficult situations."