The Catholic news agency Zenit published a story on Aug. 19, in which it claimed that the real reason former Pope Benedict stepped down from the papacy is that he had a “mystical experience” in which God personally told him to back away from the golden throne and spend the rest of his life in a solitary relationship with God. This story reportedly came from one of the few visitors that have visited Benedict in his refurbished monastery, located on the Vatican grounds.
However, the Vatican was quick to refute the claim. On the Italian TV channel Canale 5, the former Pope’s personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, told the media that the entire story was made up, “from alpha to omega”.
Now I can understand that, there are lots of stories being made up about the former pontiff, most of them are complete nonsense and I don’t think for a second that he stepped down because he got harassed by God. I also don’t think he stepped down because of his health. I think he did it because he knows that the shit is going to hit the fan and he doesn’t want to be the guy at the top when it does. I also suspect that the real powers that be, behind the scenes in the Vatican, decided that Benedict was leading them down the wrong path and “suggested” he make himself scarce while they brought in new blood that might pay better attention to his masters. That hasn’t worked out so well so far.
Still, he says some good things about Pope Francis. According to the source, “[Benedict] 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.” Well funny that God didn’t see that coming, after all, wasn’t it God that supposedly convicted the College of Cardinals to elect Benedict in the first place? It strikes me that God makes an awful lot of mistakes, but isn’t he supposed to be omniscient? Isn’t he supposed to know everything and have the ability to do anything he wants? So if he really wanted Francis in the Pope-hat, why did he waste so much time with Benedict on the throne?
In the end, I don’t think any of it matters. I don’t think we can trust Benedict farther than we can throw him, especially since he wants people to believe that he heard voices in his head telling him to spend the rest of his life in prayer. We have the Vatican which has been quick, in recent months, to pop up and tell the world what it’s supposed spokesmen actually meant to say, it’s clear who is really in charge of the Catholic Church and it’s not the Pope.
So if Benedict wants to go and spend the rest of his life babbling incoherently to himself, that’s fine. Maybe that’s one of the many reasons he left, that he’s not quite right upstairs, if he ever was. I just hope that Catholics start realizing that the tales that come out of the Vatican all need to be questioned, you really can’t trust anyone wandering around there, whether it’s their official mouthpiece or the men behind the scenes who really run the show.