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Benedict denies pressure to resign

Retired pope Benedict XVI has denied speculation that he was pressured to resign, saying his decision was freely made and his alone.

Benedict wrote to the Vatican correspondent for La Stampa newspaper, Andrea Tornielli, amid fresh speculation about his reasons ahead of the first anniversary of his resignation, the first by a pope in 600 years.

La Stampa quoted Benedict as writing: "There isn't the minimum of doubt about the validity of my resignation from the Petrine ministry. The only condition for the validity is the full freedom of the decision. Speculation about its invalidity is simply absurd."

Benedict also defended his decision to continue wearing the white cassock of the papacy, saying that there were no other clothes available.

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