The former sovereign pontiff Benedict XVI visited Regensburg, Germany, on June 18, 2020 to be at the bedside of his gravely ill, 96-year-old brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger. The first time that we are aware of for the pope emeritus, suffering from the weight of the years, to have left his retirement to return to Bavaria since his resignation.
The entourage is very reduced. Five people accompany Benedict XVI in what the media is describing as a “surprise trip”: Msgr. Georg Gänswein, private secretary to Josef Ratzinger, a doctor, a nurse, a religious sister, and the vice-commander of the Pontifical Gendarmerie.
The trip was only decided after consultation with Pope Francis, as Vatican News has clarified. Benedict XVI thus left the haven of peace of the Mater Ecclesiae monastery, in the heart of the Leonine city, to return to his native Bavaria where he landed at 11:45 am on June 18, 2020.
According to the Italian agency ACI, the pope emeritus made his decision “in a hurry after his brother’s health had deteriorated rapidly in recent days.”
The president of the conference of bishops of Germany (DBK), Msgr. Georg Bätzing, ultra-liberal prelate and craftsman of the synodal way, declared himself to be “happy that Benedict XVI, who was a member of our episcopal conference for several years, has come back home.”
As for the return of the former pope to the Vatican, the director of the Vatican Press Office, Matteo Bruni, specifies that the former Roman pontiff will stay in Germany “as long as necessary,” i.e., probably until the death of his brother. He will reside at the diocesan seminary in Regensburg.