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Pope's brother denies abuse in his church choir

The brother of Pope Benedict XVI said he was willing to give evidence in the sex scandal rocking the Catholic Church in Germany, but denied knowing about the alleged abuse of boys in a choir he led.

In a new interview, the Rev Georg Ratzinger was also quoted by Rome daily La Repubblica that there was "discipline and rigour" but no terror during his 30 years as head of the Regensburger Domspatzen choir.

The Regensburg Diocese said last week that a former singer came forward with allegations of sexual abuse in the early 1960s. Mr Ratzinger led the choir from 1964 until 1994.

The diocese has said it is hiring a lawyer to help carry out a "systematic" clarification of abuse allegations.

A man who lived in the choir-linked boarding school until 1967 claimed "a sophisticated system of sadistic punishments in connection with sexual lust" had been installed there.

Franz Wittenbrink was quoted as saying it would be inexplicable that the Pope's brother did not know about it.

But Mr Ratzinger said he knew nothing about any alleged abuse. If German justice officials "ask me to give testimony, obviously I'd be very ready to do so, but I am not able to provide any information on any deed that could be punished, because I don't have any, I never knew anything about it", the former choir leader told La Repubblica.

"We're talking about another generation, of another generation than that of my years, and respect to the generation that leads the foundation and chorus now."

Asked why cases of alleged abuse were "covered by silence" for so long, he replied: "I insist, I wasn't around in that situation, I wasn't at the choir when cases they're talking about happened.