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Benedict says God told him to step down as pope


Vatican City, Aug 20 (EFE).- Benedict XVI said it was God who told him to resign the papacy, Catholic news agency Zenit reported Tuesday.

During one of the few private visits he has granted since his retirement, Benedict, when asked by one of those present why he took that decision, he answered "God told me to," according to Zenit.

It wasn't "any kind of apparition or any phenomenon like that," but rather it was "a mystical experience" in which Our Lord caused to grow in his heart "an absolute desire to remain alone with him, secluded in prayer," the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said.

Benedict also commented during the meeting that the more he observes the "charisma" of his successor, Pope Francis, the more he realizes that his decision to resign the papacy was "the will of God."

During these meetings, Zenit said, the pope emeritus "does not make comments or reveal any secrets, he does not make statements that could seem to have the importance of words spoken by the other pope, but maintains the discretion that has always characterized him."

He said that at most, "he observes with satisfaction the marvels that the Holy Spirit is doing with his successor."