Chronology of five years of Pope Benedict’s papacy

April 18, 2010
benedict 2005

Newly elected Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican, 19 April 2005/Kai Pfaffenbach

Pope Benedict marks five years as head of the Roman Catholic Church on Monday. Here is a chronology of major events since Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope on April 19, 2005.


August 18-21 – Pope visits his native Germany for the World Youth Days in Cologne. While there, he visits a synagogue.

Nov. 29 – In a first major ruling of Benedict’s reign, the Vatican imposes restrictions on homosexuals becoming priests.


Jan. 25 – Pope releases first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est (God is Love).

May 25-28 – Benedict visits Poland, including the Nazi death camp Auschwitz. His speech there disappoints Jewish groups because it does not mention Christian anti-Semitism.

Sept. 9-14 – The pope visits his Bavarian homeland. In a speech on Sept 12 in Regensburg, he sparks protests from the Muslim world by portraying Islam as violent and irrational.

Sept. 17 – Benedict says he was “deeply sorry” about Muslim reaction to his speech, which he said was misunderstood.

Sept. 25 – Pope expresses his “esteem and profound respect” for Muslims in a speech to envoys from 20 Muslim countries.

Nov. 28-Dec. 1 – Papal trip to Turkey is a fence-mending visit including prayer facing Mecca at Istanbul’s Blue Mosque.


April 13 – Benedict publishes the first volume of Jesus of Nazareth, a theological treatise on Christ.

May 9-14 – Papal visit to Brazil is overshadowed by comments that indigenous peoples had longed for the Christianity the colonialists brought and suggestions that Catholic politicians who support abortion rights might be excommunicated.

June 30 – Benedict calls on China to lift restrictions on religious freedom that “suffocate” the church.

July 7 – Pope issues a declaration allowing the old Latin Mass to be celebrated more widely, granting a key demand of traditionalists in the church.

Nov. 30 – Publication of the encyclical Spe Salvi (Saved in Hope) urging the world to find strength in Christian hope.


Jan 15 – Benedict cancels a planned lecture at Rome’s La Sapienza University after protests against him there.

Feb 5. – Pope changes a Latin prayer at Good Friday services by traditionalist Catholics, deleting a reference to Jews and their “blindness” but still calling for them to accept Jesus.

March 23 – Pope baptizes Magdi Allam, an Egyptian-born journalist and critic of radical Islamism, at Easter Vigil.

April 15-21 – Benedict makes his first papal visit to the United States where he meets victims of clerical sex abuse on the 17th, addresses the United Nations on the 18th and says mass at Ground Zero in New York on the 20th.

July 12-21 – Pope visits Australia for World Youth Days, where he also meets victims of sexual abuse by priests.

Nov. 4-6 – The first Catholic-Muslim Forum meets at the Vatican, where Benedict receives Islamic scholars on the 6th.


Jan 24 – Pope causes uproar by lifting excommunications of four ultra-traditionalist bishops, including a Holocaust denier.

March 12 – Benedict writes to the world’s bishops explaining the readmission of the four and admitting it was handled badly.

March 17-23 – Pope visits Cameroun and Angola in visit marked by comment that condoms make the HIV-AIDS crisis worse.

May 8-15 – Benedict’s trip to Jordan, Israel and Palestinian territories sparks criticism in Israel from some Jewish leaders disappointed by his speech at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

July 7 – Pope issues Caritas in Veritate (Love in Truth) encyclical criticising unfettered capitalism.

Oct 20 – Benedict offers easier way for Anglicans opposed to their church’s women priests and homosexual bishops to convert to Roman Catholicism and keep some of their traditions.

Dec. 3 – The Vatican opens diplomatic relations with Russia.

Dec. 19 – Pope takes initial step towards making Pope Pius XII a saint, angering Jewish leaders who say the late pontiff did not do enough to help Jews during the Holocaust.


Jan. 17 – Benedict visits the synagogue in Rome.

March 20 – In a letter to the Irish, Benedict expresses shock and pain at sexual abuse crisis there, tells bishops to work with the police but outlines little other concrete action.

April 17-18 – Pope visits Malta and mentions abuse crisis only indirectly, while the island’s president and leading bishop call for more transparency.  On the 18th, he meets eight Maltese victims of sexual abuse by priests and pledges the Church will do all it can to bring abusers to justice and protect youths.

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