Vatican: Pope Benedict No Longer Organ Donor

Pope Benedict XVI waves to Mass attendees after a Vespers prayer in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Dec. 16, 2010. Pope Benedict XVI the same day called for "Christ's followers" to be defended in Africa, Asia and the Middle East and warned governments not to allow "anti-religious fanaticism." AFP PHOTO/ Filippo MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
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VATICAN CITY - The Vatican says Pope Benedict XVI, who has long championed organ transplants, is no longer an organ donor.

The pope's secretary Monsignor Georg Gaenswein addressed the issue in a letter to a German doctor who has been using the fact that Benedict possessed a donor card to recruit other donors.

Vatican Radio, in a German language report this week, said Gaenswein wrote that while the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's organ card dates to the 1970s it was rendered void when he became pope.

His secretary sought to put the matter to rest, saying any references to the now invalid document are mistaken.

Until the last century papal organs were removed — not for transplants but to make embalming more durable.