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Pope Benedict XVI following his final general audience Feb. 27. (CNS photo)

Last week a report was circulated that Pope Emeritus Benedict had told a visitor that his decision to resign from the papacy earlier this year was the result of a “mystical experience” that has continued in the months since he stepped down. Several days later, Benedict’s personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, told an Italian TV station that this story is completely false.

Originating with the Zenit news service, the report cited an unnamed visitor who allegedly spoke with Benedict about his resignation some weeks ago. “God had told me,” Benedict was reported to have said in response to questions about why he resigned. The Pope Emeritus then explained that he had a “mystical experience” calling him to “remain alone” with Christ in prayer, and that he has observed an increasing “longing for a unique and direct relationship with the Lord” that has continued since his resignation, the report continued.

“It was invented from alpha to omega,” said Archbishop Ganswein about the story. “There is nothing true in the article.”

When he announced his resignation in February, Pope Benedict stated that he was doing so because “I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.”
 
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Catherine Harmon is managing editor of Catholic World Report.
 
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