Retired Pope Benedict XVI says his decision to quit last year was his alone -- that he wasn't pressured, that he's not the victim of a conspiracy and that any speculation otherwise is "simply absurd."
Writing to La Stampa newspaper, the emeritus pope also said there's just one pope right now, and it's not him. It's Pope Francis.
Andrea Tornielli, a reporter for the newspaper, wrote to Benedict to ask about the speculation that still surrounds the decision to become the first pope to retire in nearly 600 years. According to the Vatican Insider website, which is operated by La Stampa, Benedict sent a written reply within two days.
"There is absolutely no doubt regarding the validity of my resignation from the Petrine ministry,” he wrote. "The only condition for the validity of my resignation is the complete freedom of my decision."
Benedict also explained why he continues to wear the robes associated with the papacy.
“I continue to wear the white cassock and kept the name Benedict for purely practical reasons," he wrote. "At the moment of my resignation there were no other clothes available."