The news comes from an anonymous source who visited the former pope a week ago, according to the Zenit news agency.
Asked why he resigned, the pope emeritus said, “God told me to,” but added that he had not received any kind of apparition or similar phenomenon. Rather, it was a “mystical experience” in which the Lord planted a seed of “absolute desire” in his heart “to remain alone with him, secluded in prayer.”
According to the source, this mystical experience has lasted throughout these past months, increasing “more and more” his longing for a unique and direct relationship with the Lord. It has not been an “escape” from the world, he reportedly said, but a means of seeking “refuge in God and living in his love.”
He also said that the more he sees of the “charisma” of his successor, Pope Francis, the more he realizes that his decision to resign the papacy was “the will of God.”
Despite living a cloistered life in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican Gardens, Benedict XVI does occasionally receive visitors privately. A few weeks ago, a seminarian at the North American College was surprised to be invited to the pope emeritus’ quarters to have a private conversation.
But during these meetings, Benedict XVI remains very prudent and typically discreet. He doesn’t reveal any secrets or say anything that may weigh on the new pontificate. He wishes to avoid declarations that could be thought of as “words said by the other pope”, Zenit reported.
At most, he will express wonder at how the Holy Spirit is working through his successor or he will talk about how his decision to resign was the result of Divine inspiration.
Although the source of last week’s meeting is anonymous, various Vatican officials have confirmed the veracity of his remarks.