Benny Hinn and Paula White deny romantic relationship

Television preachers Benny Hinn and Paula White have rejected reports in the press last week suggesting that they are romantically involved.

The National Enquirer showed pictures of the televangelists entering and leaving a hotel in Rome holding hands. They deny any wrongdoing during their visit to Italy, saying that they had been there for ministry duties and were never alone.

They said the article was “misguided” and “untruthful” and Hinn rejected the assertion that he and Paula had secretly stayed together as “absolutely false”.

White said: “We were never alone and were in the constant company of staff and other associates ... My relationship with Pastor Benny is genuine and pure and should not be taken out of context.”

The article “falsely characterised my friendship with Pastor Benny as being something that is morally and spiritually inappropriate”, she added.

The preachers said that although they had “not seen each other in years”, they had developed a close friendship after filming a an episode of Hinn’s half-hour “This Is Your Day” show together in May.

Hinn said the twice-divorced White had been an “encouragement” to him and “shared helpful advice” after his wife of more than 30 years filed for divorce in January. The divorce is yet to be finalised.

Hinn said: “I will not deny that the friendship has strengthened, and, while it has remained morally pure at all times, I have enjoyed the company of someone who has also gone through the trauma of a painful and public divorce.”

He continued: “I forcefully, categorically, and absolutely renounce the lies that have been spread about me and want to set the record straight with you. There is nothing inappropriate or morally improper about my friendship with Paula White. There has been no immorality whatsoever!”

Hinn said that he and White have decided to “have no further social relationship” until his divorce has been finalised and “only if we feel direction from the Lord to do so”.

In 2008, White and Hinn were two of several televangelists who were subject to an investigation by the US Senate Finance Committee into whether they had wrongfully profited from financial donations. Both denied any wrongdoing and complied with the investigation.