Pope Benedict says he no longer has the strength to fulfil his role as head of the Roman Catholic Church and will retire on February 28. Here are the major events of his ministry:

April 19, 2005

German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is elected to succeed Pope John Paul II as the 265th leader of the Roman Catholic Church. He chooses the name Benedict XVI.

November 29, 2005

The Vatican imposes restrictions on homosexuals becoming priests.

September 9-14, 2006

The Pope visits his Bavarian homeland. In a speech on September 12 in Regensburg, he sparks protests from the Muslim world by quoting a 14th century Byzantine emperor who said Islam had only brought evil to the world and was spread by the sword. Days later, Benedict says he is "deeply sorry" about Muslim reaction to his speech, which he says is misunderstood.

Nov 28-Dec 1, 2006

Papal trip to Turkey is a fence-mending visit including prayers with Istanbul's grand mufti facing Mecca at the city's Blue Mosque.

July 7, 2007

The Pope issues a declaration allowing the old Latin Mass to be celebrated more widely, a key demand of church traditionalists.

February 5, 2008

The Pope changes a Latin prayer for Good Friday services by traditionalist Catholics, deleting a reference to Jews and their "blindness" but still calling for them to accept Jesus.

January 24, 2009

The Pope causes uproar by lifting excommunications of four ultra-traditionalist bishops, including a Holocaust denier.

November 6, 2010

Benedict arrives in Spain for a two-day visit. He attacks abortion and gay marriage, recently legalised in Spain, in a mass to consecrate Barcelona's iconic Sagrada Familia church.

July 25, 2011

The Vatican recalls its ambassador to Ireland following an unprecedented rebuke of the Holy See by the Irish parliament in the wake of a report that accused church authorities of covering up sexual abuse.

January 6, 2012

Benedict names 22 new cardinals, increasing the chances the next pontiff will be a conservative European.

October 6, 2012

A Vatican court finds Benedict's former butler, Paolo Gabriele, guilty of stealing sensitive documents and sentences him to a year-and-a-half in prison.

February 11, 2012

The Pope announces his intention to resign the papacy, saying he is too old and frail to continue.

 

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