April 19, 2005: Joseph Ratzinger is elected the 265th pontiff.
April 24, 2005: The pope celebrates his papal inaugural Mass in St. Peter’s Square.
Sept. 12, 2006: His lecture at Germany’s University of Regensburg, in which he quotes a 14th century Byzantine emperor who called Islam “evil and inhuman,” sparks criticism and violent protests in Muslim countries that force him to make several public apologies.
Jan. 15, 2008: A visit to Rome’s La Sapienza University planned for Jan. 17 is called off amid protests by students and professors who accuse the pope of being “hostile” to science.
April 15-21, 2008: During his visit to the United States, he is received at the White House on his 81st birthday, meets with sex-abuse victims from the Boston Archdiocese, addresses the United Nations General Assembly, visits ground zero in Lower Manhattan, and celebrates Mass at Nationals Park and Yankee Stadium. In a speech to bishops, he says the church “very badly handled” the scandal involving pedophile priests and told U.S. bishops it is crucial to protect children from sexual predators.
Jan. 24, 2009: He lifts the excommunication of Bishop Richard Williamson and three other priests who broke with the Church in the 1980s, days after Williamson denied the Nazi Holocaust. The Vatican’s delay in distancing itself from Williamson and denouncing his views draws the ire of leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
May 8-15, 2009: He visits Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories, where he condemns Holocaust denials and calls for cooperation between Palestinians and Israelis.
March 20, 2010: In a letter to victims of child sex abuse in Ireland, he apologizes for the “grave errors” of leadership that were committed by Catholic authorities in the country after scandals involving priests.
April 12, 2010: The Vatican publishes for the first time its guidelines for dealing with Roman Catholic clerics accused of molesting minors.
Nov. 2010: An interview of the pope by a German reporter triggers confusion over the church’s view on the use of condoms.
March 24, 2012: He begins a weeklong visit to Latin America, denouncing the drug war that has racked Mexico and calling on Cuba’s leadership to find alternatives to Marxism.
Oct. 6, 2012: A Vatican court finds Benedict’s former butler, Paolo Gabriele, guilty of stealing sensitive documents and sentences him to 18 months in prison.
Dec. 12, 2012: He blesses hundreds of thousands of followers in his first Twitter message.
Dec. 22, 2012: He pardons his former butler, allowing him to be released from prison.
Feb. 11, 2013: Benedict XVI announces he will resign, effective Feb. 28, due to advancing age and health reasons.