Vatican City (Agencies): The Vatican on Friday stated that Pope Benedict XVI was no longer an organ donor as ‘the body of a pope belongs to the universal church’.

A letter from the Pope’s secretary Georg Gaenswein said that Benedict’s desire to donate his organ after death was now ‘obsolete’.

“The body of a Pope belongs to the universal church," Zygmunt Zimowski, a Polish archbishop who is the Vatican's equivalent of a health minister, was quoted by a daily.

"It is understandable that the remains of the pope should be conserved in their entirety, including for possible future veneration," he said.

He added that this exception for popes "does not take away from the validity and the beauty of the gesture of donating organs."

The future pope, Joseph Ratzinger, said in 1999 that he was on a list of organ donors. He has advocated transplants but has also condemned the "abominable" practice of organ trafficking and the use of human embryos.