Vatican: 'Benedict XVI said God told him to abdicate'
last update: August 21, 12:51
Vatican City, 21 August (AKI) - God ordered Benedict XVI to quit the papacy, in a "mystical" experience, the emeritus pope told a visitor, according to a report by Catholic news agency Zenit.
"God told me to do it," Zenit cited the 86-year-old Benedict as telling the unnamed visitor, who had asked him why he abdicated on 28 February.
It wasn't any kind of apparition such phenomenon but rather a mystical experience, Benedict allegedly said during a conversation with the visitor at his retirement home in the Vatican.
God had caused "an absolute desire to grow in his heart" to remain alone with Him, secluded in prayer," he continued, adding that this mystical experience had continued since he resigned.
Benedict stunned the world in early February when he announced he would be stepping down from the papacy at the end of the month.
The more he observed the "marvels" being achieved by his charismatic Argentinian successor Pope Francis, the more he realises that his decision to resign the papacy was "the will of God," Zenit quoted Benedict as saying.
The first pontiff to abdicate in nearly 600 years, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger stated at the time that physical and mental frailty had made him unfit to continue his reign which began in April 2005.
Benedict has kept a low profile since he retired to a renovated monastery in the Vatican Gardens, where he has received few visitors.
When he abdicated, he declared he would continue to serve the Catholic Church "through a life dedicated to prayer".
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