Pope Benedict’s heirs don’t want his money

The surviving relatives of the late Pope Benedict XVI stand to inherit small amount of money from his legacy, according to the executor of his last will and testament.

When the retired pope died at age 95 on December 31, 2022, his longtime assistant, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, got to work as executor of the will and duly went about contacting the few first cousins still alive.

“This has been very interesting for me. I thought he had two relatives, two cousins, but there are five cousins in total,” said Gänswein.

“By law I have to write to the cousins who are the closest relatives, and also by law I have to ask them, ‘Do you accept the inheritance or do you not accept it?’”

It is not publicly known what money or assets are to be inherited from the late pontiff. Pope Benedict XVI spent his final years living simply in a Vatican apartment.

However, in a complication, his relations seem unwilling to accept the legacy.

One cousin has already refused to accept the inheritance; four others have not yet responded.

The problem is that, by accepting the money, an heir also takes over any legal claims against the deceased, according to estate laws in Germany, where the cousins all live. Joseph Ratzinger, as he was known before adopting his papal name, is a defendant in one of the most-watched cases of clerical sexual abuse in the country.

“We didn’t expect this inheritance, and our lives are just fine without it,” said Martina Holzinger, the daughter and legal guardian of a now 88-year-old Ratzinger cousin who has refused the unexpected gift.

Without even knowing how much the inheritance would be, the prospect of taking on the scandal that troubled Ratzinger’s legacy was too much.

“I could get the shakes just thinking about how much I would have to pay out,” one cousin told Bavarian Radio.


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