'Mystical experience' story is untrue, says Benedict's secretary
Reports quoted former pope saying 'God told him' to resign
- Cindy Wooden for National Catholic Reporter
- Vatican City
- August 27, 2013
Archbishop Georg Ganswein, retired Pope Benedict XVI's longtime personal secretary, said a story about the pope resigning after a "mystical experience" was completely invented.
"It was invented from alpha to omega," the archbishop said Saturday in an interview on Italy's Canale 5 television news. "There is nothing true in the article."
In a report Aug. 19, the Italian service of Zenit, a Catholic news agency, said someone who visited Pope Benedict "a few weeks ago" had asked him why he resigned. "God told me to," the retired pope was quoted as responding before "immediately clarifying that it was not any kind of apparition of phenomenon of that kind, but rather 'a mystical experience' in which the Lord gave rise in his heart to an 'absolute desire' to remain alone with him in prayer."
When Pope Benedict announced his resignation in February, he said he had done so after intense prayer and that he intended to live the rest of his life praying and studying.
Some Vatican officials and Vatican watchers were surprised by Zenit's report of Pope Benedict telling an anonymous visitor that his decision was the result of some form of extraordinary "mystical experience" rather than a decision made after long and careful thought and deep prayer. Catholics traditionally would consider that kind of intense prayer a "mystical experience," though not something extraordinary.
Source: National Catholic Reporter