'Mystical experience' encouraged Pope Benedict to retire
It was because of a “mystical experience” that Pope emeritus Benedict XVI resigned from the papacy in February of this year. The former pope reportedly said “God told me to” when asked for the reasons for his retirement to a secluded life in the Vatican following the election of his successor, Pope Francis. Reported by the Zenit news agency, Benedict denied having seen an apparition or heard the voice of God, even while he said it was during his “mystical experience” that God inspired within him an “absolute desire” to leave behind the papacy and dedicate himself to a life of prayer.
The Zenit news agency did not name the person to whom Benedict spoke. Even so, a Vatican source quoted by The Guardian newspaper claimed that the report is “credible” and “accurately explains the spiritual process that brought Benedict to resign.” The pope reportedly made his statement a few weeks ago.
Lasting for several months, according to Benedict, the mystical experience fomented his desire for a direct and exclusive relationship with God. Having seen the “charisma” of Pope Francis, Benedict said accepted that stepping down was the "will of God." The report contrasts with Benedict’s explanation delivered to cardinals on February 11 when he announced his resignation. "My strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry," he said at that time.
A journalist who met with Benedict at that time reported that the erstwhile pontiff appeared to be going deaf, while he seemed to be blind in one eye. He also was emaciated and exhausted.
Benedict continues to live a life of prayer and receives few visitors to his house in the Vatican gardens. He took his first walk out of the Vatican on August 18, touring the gardens at Castel Gandolfo. It was at the papal summer retreat that Benedict stayed until his new home, a former convent, could be refurbished.
While there was speculation that Benedict’s presence at the Vatican would stymie reforms inaugurated by Pope Francis, in his meetings with visitors he has not made comments, revealed secrets, or made statements that could be understood as “the words of the other Pope.”
The Vatican shake-up started by Pope Francis has pushed Benedict to the sidelines. Pope Francis recently joked, "The last time there were two or three popes, they didn't talk among themselves and they fought over who was the true pope!" Said the current Pope, having Benedict around "is like having a grandfather – a wise grandfather – living at home".
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