By Vatican News
Pope Francis on Thursday sent a letter conveying his condolences to Pope emeritus Benedict XVI on the death of his older brother, Georg.
Georg Ratzinger, 96, a renowned kapellmeister of a famous choir, died on Wednesday morning after being hospitalized in the German city of Regensburg, the city where he lived the greater part of his life.
Monsignor Georg Ratzinger was close to his brother throughout his life. As his health failed, Pope emeritus Benedict XVI in June travelled to Regensburg to be with him one last time.
Pope Francis’s letter
In his letter, Pope Francis expresses his deepest sympathy and closeness to his predecessor: "You had the sensitivity to be the first to inform me of the news of the death of your beloved brother, Monsignor Georg. I wish to renew my deepest sympathy and spiritual closeness to you in this moment of sorrow," he writes.
The Pope goes on to assure him that he is praying for the deceased: "May the Lord of life, in His merciful goodness, welcome him into heaven and grant him the reward prepared for faithful servants of the Gospel."
And he does not forget to pray also for Benedict who is in mourning: "I pray also for you, Your Holiness, invoking the Father, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for the support of Christian hope and tender divine consolation."
The final words of Pope Francis' letter speak of poignant closeness and sensitivity as he chooses to describe himself as a son and a brother: "Always united in faith in the Risen Christ, the source of hope and peace, Filially and fraternally, Francis."
The funeral of Monsignor Georg Ratzinger will be held on 8 July in Regensburg.