Catholic group slams costly Rome mass for pope's brother

Other News Materials 26 October 2008 17:58 (UTC +04:00)

Plans for a costly mass in Rome to celebrate the birthday of Pope Benedict's elder brother have been criticized by a Catholic lay group in Germany, the weekly news magazine Focus reported Sunday.

Georg Ratzinger, a retired priest and former director of music at Regensburg Cathedral in Germany, is to celebrate his 85th birthday on January 15, dpa reported.

The Catholic Diocese of Regensburg plans to spend 100,000 dollars flying 90 boy choristers and 37 musicians to Rome to perform a Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart mass in the Sixtine Chapel in the Vatican especially for him.

Monsignor Ratzinger lives in the city of Regensburg and used to conduct the boys' choir.

His younger brother Joseph, 81, has his private house and garden in the city, but never uses it now that he is head of the Catholic Church in Rome.

Sigrid Grabmeier, deputy chairwoman of a liberal Catholic lay group We Are the Church in Regensburg Diocese, criticized the use of diocesan funds for the event.

She said Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Mueller ought to have paid for the extravagant mass from his private funds.

Focus quoted a diocesan spokesman, Jakob Schoetz, saying the income came from rents and parishioners' contributions. Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa was unable to obtain comment Sunday.

The elder Ratzinger, reportedly chose the Mozart mass when asked what he would like for this birthday. The two men are the last of their family alive. Their late sister was a spinster.