Catholic foundation buys Benedict XVI birthplace

31st March 2006, Comments 0 comments

31 March 2006, MUNICH - The small-town house in Germany where Pope Benedict XVI was born has been purchased by a Catholic foundation, the dioceses of Munich and Passau said in a statement Friday.

31 March 2006

MUNICH - The small-town house in Germany where Pope Benedict XVI was born has been purchased by a Catholic foundation, the dioceses of Munich and Passau said in a statement Friday.

An agreement to purchase was disclosed in December, but the transaction was not completed until now. The two-storey, Alpine-style house dating back to 1745 is in the small riverside town of Marktl- am-Inn, close to the Austrian border.

The purchaser was the Pope Benedict XVI Birthplace Foundation. The foundation's stated purpose is to portray Joseph Ratzinger's life and spiritual development, the two dioceses said.

The vendor, Claudia Dandl, said last year she had decided to sell because she was fed up with hundreds of tourists milling around on her front doorstep every weekend. She said she and her children could no longer enjoy small-town life and were being accosted by visitors.

Her real-estate agent reported bids from as far away as the Gulf for the stucco-plaster building, which is on the main square and was originally used as a customs house and then a police station. The purchase price has not been disclosed.

Ratzinger's father was a policeman who had an upstairs flat in the building in 1927. The family soon after moved away to a larger town, Traunstein, where Ratzinger grew up and went to school.

The initiative to purchase the house on behalf of the church was taken by rich relations of a former German cardinal, Josef Frings, and they also provided some funding, as did Bavarian dioceses.

Ratzinger was the main theological aide to Cologne archbishop Frings (1887-1978) during the Second Vatican Council, an historic Catholic conference in Rome in the first half of the 1960s.

The future pope is credited with drafting some of the documents that ushered in a new Catholic era, though he was later to be a conservative Vatican overseer of Catholic doctrine.

Bishop Wilhelm Schraml of Passau has said that a visit by the pope to the birthplace is not yet firmly scheduled, although Benedict's programme for a September 9-14 visit to Bavaria will include a pilgrimage site only 12 kilometres away. Marktl is in Passau diocese.

Friday's statement said a concept for the future use of the building was still being drawn up, but it was intended to make it a place of "encounter". It was too early to say when the opening date would be.

Marktl has attracted visitors from around the world since the pope's April 2005 election. The baptismal font where he and other Marktl citizens were christened has been rescued from a garden, where it had become a birdbath, and is now in the town museum.

DPA

Subject: German news

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