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

VATICAN CITY — 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.

 Archbishop Georg Ganswein, retired Pope Benedict XVI's longtime personal secretary, said the 'mystical experience' story is untrue. (CNS photo | Alessia Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo)

Archbishop Georg Ganswein, retired Pope Benedict XVI’s longtime personal secretary, said a story about the pope resigning after a “mystical experience” is untrue. (CNS photo | Alessia Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo)

“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.”

When Pope Benedict announced his resignation in February, he said he had done so after intense prayer and that he intended to live the rest of his life praying and studying.

Some Vatican officials and Vatican watchers were surprised by Zenit’s report of Pope Benedict telling an anonymous visitor that his decision was the result of some form of extraordinary “mystical experience” rather than a decision made after long and careful thought and deep prayer. Catholics traditionally would consider that kind of intense prayer a “mystical experience,” although not something extraordinary.

Explaining his decision to resign to a group of cardinals Feb. 11, Pope Benedict had said: “After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.”

He also told the cardinals that he wanted to dedicate the rest of his life to serving the church through his prayers.

Since stepping down Feb. 28, retired Pope Benedict has led a very quiet life, far from the public eye, although he did accept Pope Francis’ invitation to be present July 5 for the dedication of a statue in the Vatican Gardens.

Living in a remodeled monastery in the Vatican Gardens, along with Archbishop Ganswein and four consecrated laywomen, he occasionally welcomes visitors, especially friends, former students and small groups accompanying former students. The meetings are private and rarely reported in the news.

  • Ria Natuur

    Monseigneur, You are no more in the spotlights as You have been
    as the Secretary from Pope Benedictus.
    I saw a photo from you in the gardens together with Pope Benedictus
    praying the Rosary.
    Did Benedictus himself asked you to say before television:
    “There is nothing true in the article.” .

    I have my doubts. I shall tell you why.
    Do You know the ‘Locutions to the world’, from Jesus and Maria.

    Before the resignation from Pope Benedict, They (Jesus and His Mother)
    told already about these intervention in the hart from Pope Benedict.

    I put here the links so that you can read it by yourself.

    JESUS said: 20 febr. 2013

    look for reasons of why the Pope will resign. They should look into my Sacred
    Heart. He will resign because it is my will that he step down. He correctly
    sees himself as my instrument. I took him into my holy hands and used him for
    these years to guide my Church. He has brought to the Church his light and his
    intellect. He has constantly offered clear explanations of its truth and, most
    important, has tried to shine the light of faith upon every conceivable
    question. He lives by that light and has tried to cast that light (as he so
    deeply grasps it) upon every issue. He has laid an intellectual foundation. All
    who want to search his writings will find clarity and reason.

    Now, I must bring another pope to the Chair of Peter. He will have a different goal,
    one that Benedict truly shares and deeply believes in. As I placed a great light of
    learning in Benedict, so I have placed the great light of my mother in the new
    pope. His heart is filled with Mary. He lives in her and, literally, breathes
    in her. Her name is always on his lips. She is the one who has prepared and
    chosen him from the beginning. Like Benedict, he will bring to the Chair of
    Peter exactly what I have placed in his heart. He will not see himself bringing
    his own talents. He knows they are too little. He carries Fatima in his heart.
    That will be his first gift. He also carries Jerusalem in his heart. That is
    his second gift. When he has given those two gifts to the Church, his papacy
    will be completed, just as Benedict’s is now complete.

    Monseigneur, please, read it by Yourself.
    The Locutions are under the responsibility from Monsignor John Esseff,
    a diocesan priest of Scranton,

    I hope Monseigneur that you will receive my reply. For many reasons I take
    the LOCUTIONS to THE WORLD, serious.