Benedict XVI says he is stepping down at the end of the month, lacking the strength to fulfill his duties at the head of the Catholic Church. The 85-year-old German becomes the first pontiff to resign in nearly 600 years. Here are some key events in the life of a conservative pontiff who grappled with a global sex abuse scandal that exploded during his leadership:
April 16, 1927: Born Joseph Alois Ratzinger in Marktl am Inn, Germany, youngest of three children to Joseph and Maria Ratzinger.
June 29, 1951: Ordained along with brother Georg Ratzinger in Freising.
April 19, 2005: Elected 265th pope in one of the fastest conclaves in history. Choosing name Benedict XVI, he says he is merely a "simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord."
May 28, 2006: During trip to Poland, visits Auschwitz concentration camp.
July 7, 2007: Removes restrictions on celebrating the old Latin Mass in major gesture to traditional Catholics.
July 19, 2008: During visit to Australia for World Youth Day, meets with victims of priestly sex abuse and during a Mass apologizes for their suffering.
Oct. 20, 2009: Vatican announces pope is making it easier for Anglicans to convert en masse to Catholicism.
March 2, 2011: Issues sweeping exoneration of Jews for the death of Christ in "Jesus of Nazareth-Part II." Book released March 10.