Benedict's personal secretary denies resignation reports

The personal secretary of former Pope Benedict XVI has dismissed media reports that the pontiff's resignation was prompted by a belief that God had told him to.

Catholic news agency Zenit reported earlier this month that the Pope Emeritus had a "mystical experience" in which God "told me" to step down.

The report claimed the experience led to him having an "absolute desire" to dedicate his life exclusively to prayer and a solitary relationship with God.

The source for the story was anonymous.

However, Benedict's personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein told the Italian TV channel Canale 5 that the report from Zenit was "made up from alpha to omega".

"There is nothing true in that story," he said.