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TIMELINE - Benedict as Pope

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Fri, 18 Nov 2011 16:33 GMT
Author: Reuters
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Nov 18 (Reuters) - Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Benin on Friday on his second trip to Africa as Roman Catholic leader.

Here are the major events in Benedict's time as Pope so far:

August 18-21, 2005 - 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.

May 25-28, 2006 - 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 draws 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.

May 9-14, 2007 - 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.

Feb. 5, 2008 - Pope changes a Latin prayer at Good Friday services, deleting a reference to Jews and their "blindness" but still calling for them to accept Jesus.

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

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 Nov. 6.

Jan. 24, 2009 - 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 Cameroon 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 draws criticism in Israel from some Jewish leaders disappointed by his speech at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

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, 2010 - 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.

Nov. 6 - Benedict arrives in Spain for a two-day visit. Benedict attacks abortion and gay marriage, recently legalised in Spain, in a Mass to consecrate Barcelona's iconic church in another pointed criticism of what he called Spain's "aggressive secularism".

June 6, 2011 - On the second day of his trip to Croatia, a bastion of Roman Catholicism in the Balkans, the pope warns the traditional family in Europe is "disintegrating" under the weight of secularisation.

July 25 - The Vatican recalls its ambassador to Ireland following unprecedented rebuke of the Holy See by the Irish parliament in the wake of a report which accused church authorities of covering up the sexual abuse of children by priests as recently as 2009.

Aug. 18 - Pope Benedict arrives in Spain on his third visit for the World Youth Day 2011 celebrations.

Sept. 22 - Benedict arrives in Germany for a four-day visit, touring mostly Protestant and atheist regions in the ex-communist east. On the last day, he delivered a vigorous defence of his conservative views and rejected calls for reforms.

Nov. 3 - Ireland says it will close its embassy to the Vatican to help meet its fiscal goals under an EU-IMF bailout.

Nov. 18 - Benedict arrives in Benin's capital, Cotonu, for a three day visit and says African nations should avoid the "unconditional surrender to the law of the market and that of finance". During the visit, a papal document on Africa is to be published. (Reporting by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit)

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