â€œBenedict XVI has tried to scotch rumours that he carries an organ donor card after his secretary revealed that his ascension to the position of Holy Father means he is no longer able to bequeath his body parts to lesser mortals.
On the pontiff's instructions, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, Benedict's personal secretary, fired off a letter to quell the rumours that started in the Pope's native Germany.
"It's true that a simple cardinal can have an organ donor card but, despite public declarations to the contrary, it ceased to apply when he was elected head of the Catholic Church," Mgr Gaenswein said.
In 1999, the then-Cardinal Ratzinger said he was on an organ-donor list. "I am available to offer my organs to whoever might need them. It is an act of love, of affection and generosity," he said at the time.
And as recently as 2008, three years after being elected pontiff, Benedict attended an international congress on donor transplantation where he repeated his support for organ donors. "It's a special way of showing charity," he said, though he added that donations had to be "free, voluntary [and] respectful of the health and dignity of the donor...â€â€