“God told me to do it,” former pontiff Benedict XVI is reported to have said in an explaination of the reasons behind his shock departure earlier this year.
He said that God had implanted the desire to resign from the head of the Catholic Church.
The Zenith news agency quoted Benedict as saying that to a visitor to the convent in the Vatican gardens where he is living out his retirement in near isolation.
According to the agency, Benedict told his visitor, who asked to remain anonymous, that God did not speak to him in a vision but in what the former pope called “a mystical experience”.
Under his leadership the Vatican was rocked by financial scandals and allegations of child abuse.
Benedict, whose formal title is now Pope Emeritus, announced his shock resignation on Feb. 11 and on Feb. 28 became the first pontiff to step down in 600 years.
He was succeeded by Pope Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, who was elected as the first non-European pontiff in 1,300 years.
Reportedly Benedict told his visitor that the more he observes the way Francis carries out his papal duties, the more he realised the choice was “wanted by God”.