Timeline of Pope Benedict XVI’s Pontificate -


April 2 Pope John Paul II dies.

April 8 Celebrates John Paul’s funeral, thought to be the most-watched live event in the history of television. Virtually all Italy-based Web pages covering the event crash under heavy traffic.

April 18 Speaks of a “dictatorship of relativism” during the homily at the Mass to begin the papal conclave.

April 19 Elected 265th Pope.

April 21 Announces his e-mail address: benedictxvi@vatican.va.

April 24 Celebrates his Papal Inauguration Mass.

May 9 Opens the beatification process for John Paul II.

June 28 Approves the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church for publication.

Aug. 18-21 Visits Germany for the 20th World Youth Day in Cologne.

Oct. 23 Canonizes five new saints at a Mass closing the Year of the Eucharist and the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist.

Dec. 22 Explains his vision for the interpretation of Vatican II — a “hermeneutic of continuity” — in an address to the Roman Curia.


Jan. 25 The encyclical Deus Caritas Est is promulgated.

March Begins to downsize the Curia by merging four pontifical councils into two and by beginning to assign multiple executive duties to individual bishops.

May 25-28 Stops by many of the places associated with the life of Pope John Paul II while visiting Poland.

June 22 Names Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone Secretary of State.

July 8-9 Visits Spain for the Fifth World Meeting of Families.

Sept. 9-14 More than half a million people participate in outdoor Masses during a trip to Germany.

Sept. 12 Delivers “The Regensburg Adrress” entitled “Faith, Reason and the University.” The controversy the speech causes leads to violence and vandalism around the Muslim world.

Nov. 28-Dec. 1 Unprecedented security measures protect the Holy Father during a trip to Turkey, where he prays silently alongside Grand Mufti Cagrici in Istanbul’s Blue Mosque.


Feb. 22 The post-synodal apostolic exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, on the Eucharist, is signed.

May 9-13 Visits Brazil to address CELAM, the Latin American Bishops’ Council.

May 15 The Pope’s book Jesus of Nazareth hits stores in the U.S.

May 27 Signs a letter to Chinese Catholics to show his support and encourage growth in unity.

June 9 Receives President George W. Bush in audience at the Vatican.

July 7 The “motu proprio” letter Summorum Pontificum, expanding the use of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Missal, is promulgated.

July 13 Announces that the Vatican will become the world’s first “carbon-neutral” state by planting a forest in Hungary to offset its carbon emissions and installing solar panels on Paul VI Hall.

Sept. 7-9 Visits Austria.

Oct. 13 Receives a letter from 138 Muslim scholars from 43 countries on dialogue between Christianity and Islam.

Oct. 28 Beatifies 498 martyrs from the Spanish Civil War in a ceremony at the Vatican, setting an all-time record for a single ceremony.

Nov. 30 The encyclical Spe Salvi, on the virtue of hope, is promulgated.


Jan. 17 A planned visit to Rome’s public La Sapienza University is canceled when 67 faculty members protest that the Pope is “hostile” to science. The protest is condemned by most Italian politicians and academics.

Feb. 5 Modifies the prayer for the Jewish people prayed in the Good Friday liturgy.

March 19 An audio message from Osama bin Laden claiming that the Pope “has played a large, lengthy role” in a “new Crusade” against Islam is posted on a militant website.

April 15-20 During his visit to the United States, he is received at the White House on his 81st birthday, meets with sex abuse victims from the Boston Archdiocese, addresses the United Nations General Assembly, visits Ground Zero, and celebrates Mass at Nationals Park and Yankee Stadium.

June 13 Breaks protocol to receive President George W. Bush at the Vatican with unprecedented honors.

June 28 Opens the Pauline Year with vespers at Rome’s Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.

July 13-21 Visits Australia to participate in World Youth Day. Makes a historic full apology for child sex abuse on July 18 during a Mass with 3,400 persons.

Sept. 8 Sends a message to members of the social networking site XT3.com — a first in papal history — and signs it “BXVI.”

Sept. 12-15 Travels to France to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Lourdes apparitions.

Oct. 22 The first volume of Joseph Ratzinger’s “Complete Works” is published in German.

Oct. 26 Celebrates Mass to open the Synod on the Word of God.

Nov. 11 Receives a phone call from President Obama in thanks for his telegram of congratulations on his election.


Jan. 5 Listed by Newsweek as No. 37 on the list of the world’s most influential people.

Jan. 23 Launches a Vatican channel on YouTube.

Jan. 24 Lifts the excommunication of four Lefebvrist bishops.

Feb. 1 Patriarch Kirill is elected to head the Russian Orthodox Church, bringing new hope for improved relations between Rome and Moscow.

March 12 An intensely personal letter defending his handling of the Lefebvrist schism is released.

March 16 Announces that a Year for Priests will be celebrated from June 19, 2009, to June 19, 2010.

March 17-23 Travels to Cameroon and Angola.

May 8-15 Visits Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories, where he condemns Holocaust denials and calls for cooperation between Palestinians and Israelis.

May 20 The Ryan Report on clerical sex abuse in Ireland is published.

June 21 Visits the tomb of St. Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo in southern Italy.

July 7 The encyclical Caritas in Veritate, on problems related to global development, is promulgated.

July 10 Receives President Barack Obama in audience at the Vatican and confers privately with him for half an hour.

July 17 Falls and breaks his wrist while on vacation. Spends six weeks in a cast.

Sept. 26-28 Visits the Czech Republic, one of the most atheistic countries in the world.

Nov. 4 Signs the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus on personal ordinariates for Anglicans entering into full communion with the Catholic Church.

Nov. 26 The Murphy Report, analyzing bishops’ handling of clerical sex abuse allegations in Ireland, is published.

Dec. 19 Awards the title “Servant of God” to Popes John Paul II and Pius XII, recognizing their heroic virtue.

2009 2.2 million people attend public audiences and liturgical celebrations at the Vatican.


Jan. 17 Visits the synagogue of Rome.

March 20 A pastoral letter to the Catholics of Ireland on the abuse crisis is published.