More evidence of Luther’s point about Roman Catholics and Protestant “enthusiasts” being basically the same in thinking God speaks to them directly and experientially, apart from His Word:
“God told me to do it,” the 86-year-old former pontiff told a friend, six months after his decision to step down shocked the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
God had implanted in his heart the “absolute desire” to resign and to devote himself to a life of prayer and reflection, Benedict told the anonymous confidante, according to Zenit, a Rome-based Catholic news agency.
“It was not because of any type of apparition or phenomenon of that sort,” he said, but instead the result of a “mystical experience” received during “a direct rapport with the Lord”.
He said the more he sees the “charisma” of Pope Francis, 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.
Francis, the former archbishop of Buenos Aires, has won huge popularity with his down-to-earth and direct style, renouncing many of the trappings of office, visiting a favela slum during his week-long trip to Brazil last month and calling for a “poor Church”.
The conversation between Benedict and the confidante took place in Mater Ecclesiae, the former convent within the walls of the Vatican that has been converted into a retirement home for the German former pope.
Vatican sources confirmed the veracity of the report but declined to reveal the identity of the person that Benedict spoke to.
“The report is reliable, without a doubt, although this is not an official Vatican statement or position,” an insider told The Daily Telegraph.