The ex-pope, formerly Joseph Ratzinger, has said he received his holy P45 during a “mystical experience”, according to the report.
The German pontiff, who sent shock waves through the church in February when he announced he would be the first pope to quit in modern times, had said his increasing frailness meant he was not up to the job.
But six months after Pope Francis succeeded him, the Zenit news agency has claimed that Benedict told a senior Vatican source: “God told me to do it.”
The “mystical experience” has even continued in the months following his abdication, “ever bringing him closer to God”, the anonymous source is reported as saying.
According to Italian media, Benedict’s decision to step down was influenced by the various scandals that blighted his eight-year papacy, including the arrest of his personal butler for leaking private documents alleging corruption in the Vatican.
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.
Benedict, known for PR blunders and lack of people skills, has admitted that his popular successor is better suited to the job.
“The more I see Francis’s charisma, the more I realise the choice was the will of God,” he reportedly said.
Benedict, who enjoys the somewhat contradictory title of Pope Emeritus, lives in the Vatican’s Casa Santa Marta residence, a few hundred yards from his successor.