Lima, Peru, Feb 27, 2013 / 12:41 pm
An atheist Peruvian author has praised the spiritual and intellectual stature of Pope Benedict XVI and said that his departure is a loss for the cultural and spiritual life of the world.
"I don't know why Benedict XVI's abdication has been such a surprise," said Mario Vargas Llosa, a Nobel laureate in literature and a self-proclaimed atheist opposed to the moral teachings of the Church.
"Although it is unusual, it was not unpredictable," he said of the Holy Father's announcement earlier this month that he would be resigning on Feb. 28 due to advanced age and declining strength.
"You could tell just by looking at how fragile he was and how lost he seemed among the crowds in which his office required that he immerse himself," Vargas Llosa said in a column published by the Spanish daily El Pais.