By DAILY MAIL REPORTER
The Vatican was today forced to deny that Pope Benedict will donate his organs after his death.
The 83-year-old revealed he carried a donor card back in 1999, six years before he was elected to the papacy.
At the time, he described donation as an 'act of love' and said he carried the card 'with all my personal details on it' at all times.
But the Vatican has now said the card effectively became invalid when he ceased to be a cardinal and became pontiff.
Officials were moved to make the statement to stop a doctor in Germany using the pope's card as a way to advocate the practice.
The Vatican had already asked the medic to stop doing so but he had not, prompting a letter from the Pope's secretary, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein.
Quoting from the letter, Vatican Radio said: 'It's true that the pope owns an organ donor card...
'But contrary to public opinion, the card issued back in the 1970s became de facto invalid with Cardinal Ratzinger's election to the papacy.'
Vatican officials say that, after a pope dies, his body belongs to the entire Church and has to be buried intact.
Until the death of Pope John Paul II in 2005, the bodies of popes were embalmed.
Also if papal organs were donated, they would become relics in other bodies if he were eventually made a saint.
Papal organs used to be removed to help the embalming process and make it more durable.
The organs of 22 popes from Sixtus V, who died in 1590, to Leo XIII, who died in 1903, are kept as relics in a church in Rome.
The custom was abolished by Pope Piux X in the early 1900s.