Retired pope’s secretary says ‘mystical experience’ story is untrue

Archbishop Georg Ganswein, retired Pope Benedict XVI’s longtime personal secretary, said a story about the pope resigning after a “mystical experience” was completely invented.

“It was invented from alpha to omega,” the archbishop said Aug. 24 in an interview on Italy’s Canale 5 television news. “There is nothing true in the article.”

In a report Aug. 19, the Italian service of Zenit, a Catholic news agency, said someone who had visited Pope Benedict “a few weeks ago” had asked him why he resigned. “God told me to,” the retired pope was quoted as responding before “immediately clarifying that it was not any kind of apparition of phenomenon of that kind, but rather ‘a mystical experience’ in which the Lord gave rise in his heart to an ‘absolute desire’ to remain alone with him in prayer.”