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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 23 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 34
God told me to quit, ex-Pope says
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God told me to quit, ex-Pope says

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Former Pope Benedict XVI said 'God told me to' resign the papacy, in a report filed by the Catholic news agency Zenit.

The former Pope's remarks, which Zenit made public on August 21, were said to have been made 'a few weeks ago.' The person to whom the Pope made the statement was not identified.

Benedict said he had not seen a vision or heard God's voice, but that he had what he described as a 'mystical experience' in which God inspired him with an 'absolute desire' to retire to a life of prayer rather than continue as pontiff.

The experience lasted for months, Benedict added, steadily building up his desire to leave office. After seeing the 'charisma' of his successor, Pope Francis, the ex-Pope said that he believed his retirement was 'the will of God.'

An unnamed senior Vatican source said the report was reliable. 'The report seems credible. It accurately explains the spiritual process that brought Benedict to resign,' he said.

SHIFTING NARRATIVE
Benedict's remarks contradict the explanation he gave Vatican officials when he announced his resignation on February 11, becoming the first pope in nearly 600 years to do so. At the time he said, 'My strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.'

A German reporter who met Benedict at that time confirmed that his strength appeared to be failing, saying the pope was going deaf, seemed to be blind in one eye, and was emaciated and 'exhausted-looking.'

Benedict was also reportedly depressed after his butler, Paolo Gabriele, was caught leaking the Pope's private letters to news media.

The former pope's reported remarks also contradict Italian press reports that he resigned in despair over the influence of a so-called 'Gay Lobby' of powerful clerics who banded together to frustrate his plans to clean up a church beset with scandals.

Zenit added that Benedict was content with his present life of secluded prayer, and was not motivated to meddle in church affairs.

'During these meetings, the ex-pontiff does not comment, does not reveal secrets, does not make statements that could be understood as 'the words of the other pope,' but is as reserved as he has always been,' Zenit said.

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