Highlights from the life of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
VATICAN CITY — Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, the first pope to resign in 600 years, has died. Here are the highlights from his life.
April 16, 1927: Joseph Alois Ratzinger was born in Marktl am Inn, Germany, the youngest of three children born to Joseph and Maria Ratzinger.
1943-1945: Assistant German air defense infantry; imprisoned in 1945 in the American POW camp at Neu-Ulm.
June 29, 1951: Ordained priest with Brother Georg Ratzinger in Freising.
1969-1977: Professor at the University of Regensburg.
March 25, 1977: Appointed archbishop of Munich and Freising.
June 27, 1977: He was made a Cardinal by Pope Paul VI.
November 25, 1981: Appointed by Pope John Paul II Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; took office in March 1982.
April 2, 2005: Pope John Paul II dies.
April 8, 2005: As head of the College of Cardinals, Ratzinger presides over John Paul’s funeral.
April 19, 2005: Elected as the 265th pope in one of the fastest conclaves in history. Choosing the name Benedict XVI, he said he was just a “simple, humble worker in the Lord’s vineyard.”
April 24, 2005: Consecrated pope with Mass.
18-21 August 2005: First trip abroad, attending World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany.
September 24, 2005: Meet dissident theologian Hans Kung at the pope’s summer residence.
December 25, 2005: The first encyclical “God is Love” is signed. Released January 25, 2006.
May 28, 2006: During his trip to Poland, he visited the Auschwitz concentration camp.
September 12, 2006: During a visit to Germany, a speech at the University of Regensburg infuriates Muslims; cites a Byzantine emperor, who described some of the Prophet Muhammad’s teachings as “evil and inhuman”, especially “his command to spread the faith with his sword”.
April 16, 2007: The first volume of the book “Jesus of Nazareth” was completed on his 80th birthday. Released April 13.
May 27, 2007: Signed letter to Chinese Catholics, calling on them to unite under his authority. Published June 30.
July 7, 2007: Remove restrictions on the celebration of the old Latin Mass in a gesture important to traditional Catholics.
April 20, 2008: During his visit to the United States, pray for the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks at Ground Zero.
19 July 2008: During a visit to Australia for World Youth Day, meeting with victims of priestly abuse and at Mass apologizing for their suffering.
January 21, 2009: Removes excommunication from Holocaust-denial Bishop Richard Williamson and three other ultra-traditionalist bishops of the Church of Pius X, sparking outrage. The decree was issued on January 24.
March 10, 2009: Admits Vatican mistakes in the Williamson case, says the Vatican must make better use of the Internet to prevent future controversies. Letter issued March 12.
March 17, 2009: En route to Cameroon, he tells reporters on the pope’s plane that condoms are not the solution to AIDS and could make the problem worse, causing widely criticized.
May 11, 2009: During a visit to the Holy Land, lays a wreath at the Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem, saying that Holocaust victims “have lost their lives but they will never lose their names.”
June 29, 2009: The third encyclical “Charity in Truth” is signed. Released July 7, 2009.
July 17, 2009: When he returned home for summer vacation, he broke his right wrist.
October 20, 2009: The Vatican announces that the pope is making it easier for Anglicans to convert mass to Catholicism.
March 19, 2010: Reprimands Irish bishops for “grave error of judgment” in dealing with clerical sexual abuse but fails to address Vatican responsibility in letter to the Irish faithful Lan. Released March 20th.
May 1, 2010: Ordered an overhaul of the Legion of Christ after a Vatican investigation identified its founder as a fraud.
September 16-19 2010: During the first state visit of a pope to England, meets Queen Elizabeth II, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and beatifies Anglican convert John Henry Newman .
November 20, 2010: Revises controversial condom-AIDS comments in the book and says male prostitutes using condoms may be taking the first step towards responsible sex more responsibility.
March 2, 2011: Issues of the widespread Jewish immunity to Christ’s death in “Jesus of Nazareth-Part II.” Book released March 10.
May 1, 2011: Beatified John Paul II in front of 1.5 million people.
June 28, 2011: First tweet announcing the launch of the Vatican news portal.
October 6, 2012 The Pope’s former butler was convicted of stealing the pope’s private letters and disclosing them to a journalist.
February 11, 2013: Revealed in Latin that he will resign on February 28 during a meeting of Vatican cardinals, surprising even his closest collaborators.
February 28, 2013: Leaves Vatican City in a helicopter to Castel Gandolfo, where he begins his final journey as a “simple pilgrim”.
March 23, 2013: Welcoming Pope Francis for lunch at Castel Gandolfo; the two prayed side by side and Francis asserted, “We are brothers.”
April 28, 2014: With Pope Francis at the altar for the canonization of Saints John Paul II and Saint John XXIII, the first time a sitting and retired pope celebrated Mass together.
April 11, 2019: In an essay, blaming the clergy sex abuse scandal for the sexual revolution of the 1960s and the absence of God.
January 2020: Contributing to a book reaffirms celibacy for priests at a time when Francis is considering an exception, sparking calls for rules governing “ecclesiastical” royal honor” in the future.
June 18, 2020: Arriving in Germany to visit his ailing brother, Bishop Georg Ratzinger, who died two weeks later, on July 1.
July 16, 2021: Signed by him easing restrictions on the celebration of the old Latin Mass that was overturned by Pope Francis.
January 21, 2022: Accused of handling four sexual abuse cases while bishop of Munich in the 1970s and 1980s according to an independent report commissioned by the German church.
February 8, 2022: Apologizes for any “grave error” in the handling of priests in Munich, but denies personal or specific wrongdoing.
December 28, 2022: Pope Francis announces that Benedict is “severely ill”, asks for special prayers and visits him at his home.
December 31, 2022: Benedict died at 9:34 a.m. at his home in the Vatican Gardens, aged 95.