Here's a look at Pope Benedict XVI's life.
Personal: Birth date: April 16, 1927
Birth place: Marktl am Inn, Germany
Birth name: Joseph Ratzinger
Father: Joseph Ratzinger, a police officer
Mother: Maria Ratzinger
Education: University of Munich, doctorate in theology, 1953
Religion: Roman Catholic
Other Facts: Is a conservative, considered the driving force behind crackdowns on liberation theology, religious pluralism, challenges to traditional moral teachings on issues such as homosexuality, and dissent on issues such as women's ordination, according to CNN's John Allen in "Who is Pope Benedict XVI."
Served as chief theological adviser to Pope John Paul II.
Positions held: Prefect of Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and International Theological Commission, and Dean of the College of Cardinals
As dean of the College of Cardinals, it was his duty to call the cardinals to Rome for conclave after the death of Pope John Paul II.
Is an accomplished pianist and loves Mozart.
Timeline: 1945 - During World War II, he deserts the German army and is taken prisoner by the U.S. Army.
June 29, 1951 - Is ordained as a priest.
1959-1969 - Teaches theology at various colleges in Germany.
1969 - Vice president and professor of theology at the University of Regensburg in Germany.
March 1977 - Is named Archbishop of Munich and Freising and is consecrated on May 28, 1977.
June 27, 1977 - Is made a cardinal by Pope Paul VI.
November 25, 1981 - Is named Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; President of the Biblical Commission and of the Pontifical International Theological Commission.
November 6, 1998 - Is elected vice dean of the College of Cardinals.
November 30, 2002 - Is named the dean of the College of Cardinals.
April 19, 2005 - Is elected the 265th pope by 115 cardinals less than 24 hours after the conclave began.
April 24, 2005 - His inaugural Mass takes place.
August 19, 2005 - Becomes the second pope in history to visit a synagogue when he speaks at the Roonstrasse Synagogue in Cologne, Germany.
January 25, 2006 - Issues his first encyclical, focusing on the subjects of love, eros, charity, and politics.
March 24, 2006 - Holds his first consistory and formally elevates 15 men to the level of cardinal. The next day, a ceremony is held in Saint Peter's Square in which the pope presents each of the new cardinals with a golden ring to symbolize their fidelity to the church.
May 25, 2006 - Travels to Poland to pay homage to the late Pope John Paul II. He visits John Paul's birth home in Wadowice, and travels to Krakow, the city where John Paul II lived before he assumed the papacy in 1978. Benedict XVI also visits the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.
September 12-20, 2006 - Gives a speech in Bavaria, Germany that includes quotes from 14th-century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus, regarding Islam and the Prophet Mohammed. The speech sparks protests by Muslims around the world and causes the recall of the Moroccan envoy to the Vatican. The pope apologizes for the offense to the Muslim world.
November 28, 2006 - Arrives in Turkey for his first visit as pope.
May 9, 2007 - Arrives in Brazil for a six day visit, his first as pope.
June 9, 2007 - Meets with U.S. President George W. Bush at the Vatican, the first meeting between the two. Their discussions include Iraq, Muslim relations, and AIDS.
September 7-9, 2007 - The pope travels to Austria for the 850th anniversary of the Mariazell shrine.
October 28, 2007 - The pope beatifies 498 victims of the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s. It is the largest mass beatification in history.
November 24, 2007 - Elevates 23 senior clergy to the position of cardinal.
April 15-20, 2008 - Visits the U.S. for the first time as pope.
April 17, 2008 - Holds Mass at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. with an estimated 46,000 in attendance. Later in the day, meets with Bernie McDaid, Olan Horne, and Faith Johnston, three victims of sexual abuse by clergymen.
April 18, 2008 - Delivers a speech to the United Nations General Assembly.
April 19, 2008 - Celebrates Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral.
April 20, 2008 - Prays at ground zero in lower Manhattan, before leading a Mass at Yankee Stadium in front of 60,000 people.