Zenit, a controversial news agency based in Rome with deep ties to the Vatican, reported Wednesday that Pope Emeritus Benedict abdicated because of an ongoing “mystical experience.” Benedict lives in seclusion in a cloistered monastery, Mater Ecclesiae, within the Vatican grounds. Zenit claims that visitors to the cloister have stated that the former Pope discussed his reasons for abdicating the papacy. One visitor allegedly met with the Pope Emeritus several weeks ago and reported that Benedict declared his motivations for resigning:
“God had told me,” he said, clarifying that it was not any kind of apparition or phenomenon of that kind, but rather a “mystical experience” in which the Lord had developed in his heart an “absolute desire” to remain alone with Him, withdrawn in prayer.
Zenit reports news from Rome on a website in seven languages. Its founder, Jesus Colina, was forced out in 2011 during the Vatican’s restructuring of the Legion of Christ. At the time of Colina’s ouster he was considered too close to an order that was associated with sexual abuse and fundraising scandals.
The unnamed visitor also told Zenit that the mystical experiences are continuing in intensity and that the more Benedict “observes the ‘charisma’ of Pope Francis, the more he understands that his choice was the ‘will of God.'”