From Mythical Experience to Damage Control, Benedict XVI Secretary Rejects Interaction with God

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | August 27, 2013 1:26 PM EST

Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, personal secretary of Benedict XVI, former Roman Catholic pontiff, has flatly rejected claims of some media reports that the immediate predecessor of Pope Francis had experienced any mystical experiences which triggered his surprise abdication as leader of the 1.2 billion-strong secular faith in February 28, 2013.

The report was "made up from alpha to omega," Archbishop Gaenswein, who also acts as Prefect of the Papal Household for the current spiritual pontiff Pope Francis, said on Sunday to the Italian TV channel Canale 5.

Last week, a report initially released by the Catholic news agency Zenit, which was immediately picked up by various news agencies, told of a story that was based on the account from one of the very few individuals who have visited the former pope.

According to that report, the German ex-pontiff Benedict XVI said he resigned from his post at heir of St Peter's throne because "God told me so," after experiencing a "mystical experience" in the days leading to his announcement of his resignation.

The incident firmed up an "absolute desire" in Benedict XVI, or so Zenit's unidentified source claims, to dedicate the remaining years of his life to prayer, "in a solitary relationship with God."

"There is nothing true in that story," Archbishop Gaenswein said.

But a source earlier interviewed by the Guardian defended the authenticity of the report.

"The report seems credible. It accurately explains the spiritual process that brought Benedict to resign," the unidentified source said.

 Benedict XVI said his mystical experience was not a one-time deal, it lasted months because he had wanted to create a direct and exclusive relationship with God as gauge if he should or not step down from his post.

 "[Benedict] said the more he sees the 'charisma' of his successor, the more he is convinced that it was 'the will of God' that he became the first pontiff in 600 years to resign," the Telegraph wrote.

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