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Pope Benedict XVI meets with Fidel Castro in Havana, Cuba.

Pope Benedict said on Monday that he no longer had the strength to fulfil his role as head of the Roman Catholic Church and would retire on Feb. 28.

Here are the major events of his ministry:


April 19 - German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is elected to succeed Pope John Paul II as the 265th leader of the Roman Catholic Church. He chose the name Benedict XVI.

Nov. 29 - The Vatican imposes restrictions on homosexuals becoming priests.


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 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 was "deeply sorry" about Muslim reaction to his speech, which he said was misunderstood.

Nov. 28-Dec. 1 - 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 - Pope issues a declaration allowing the old Latin Mass to be celebrated more widely, a key demand of church traditionalists.


Feb 5. - 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.


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


Nov. 6 - 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 in another pointed criticism of what he called Spain's "aggressive secularism".


July 25 - 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.


Jan. 6, 2012 - Benedict names 22 new cardinals, increasing the chances the next pontiff will be a conservative European.

Oct. 6 - A Vatican court finds Benedict's former butler guilty of stealing sensitive documents and sentences him to a year and a half in prison. Paolo Gabriele said he had acted out of "visceral" love for the Roman Catholic Church and the pope.

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