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Benedict XVI acknowledges the crowd during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, April 9, 2008. (Pier Paolo Cito, Associated Press)

In Depth

The Pope

Timeline: The first three years

Pope Benedict XVI's memorable moments and missteps

April 14, 2008

Pilgrims rejoice as white smoke billows from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican, marking the election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as the new Pope. (Associated Press)

April 13, 2005: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's book is published in Germany under the title Values in a Time of Upheaval. The book calls on Europe to return to its Christian roots and condemns gay marriage, divorce and the possibility of human cloning.

April 19, 2005: Ratzinger is chosen to succeed Pope John Paul II. The first German to hold the office since the 11th century, he takes the name Benedict XVI.

CBC STORY: 'Simple, humble worker' elected Pope

August 21, 2005: A crowd of an estimated one-million people gathers in Cologne, Germany, to hear Pope Benedict's mass at World Youth Day.

November 29, 2005: A Vatican directive bans from the priesthood "those who practise homosexuality, show profoundly deep-rooted homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called gay culture." A person with "transitory" tendencies — such as those experienced during adolescence — can be ordained, but only at least three years after renouncing homosexuality.

May 27, 2006: Pope Benedict XVI pays an emotional visit to Wadowice, the birthplace of John Paul II, and adds his voice to the movement urging sainthood for his predecessor. The stop was the most sentimental part of the Pope's four-day pilgrimage to Poland.

CBC STORY: Benedict calls for 'Saint' John Paul

September 12, 2006: During a speech at Regensburg University in Germany, Pope Benedict quotes a 14th-century text of a Byzantine emperor that proves to be inflammatory to Muslims. Stressing they were the emperor's words and not his, he reads an excerpt that said the Prophet Muhammad brought only "evil and inhuman" things to the world.

September 17, 2006: After days of rising Islamic anger over his comments — including street protests in Gaza, Turkey and elsewhere — Pope Benedict apologizes for the remarks. "I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address at the University of Regensburg, which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims," he said from a balcony at his Rome residence.

Pope Benedict, left, and Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew wave from a balcony of the patriarchate in Istanbul. (Kerim Okten/Associated Press)

November 30, 2006 During a historic visit to Turkey, Pope Benedict makes a bold, conciliatory gesture toward Muslims. He visits the Blue Mosque, becoming only the second pope from Rome to ever visit a Muslim place of worship. "It really was considered here as a striking, symbolic moment," the CBC's Adrienne Arsenault reported from Istanbul.

CBC STORY: Pope visits Blue Mosque

May 9, 2007: Controversy bookends Pope Benedict's Brazil trip, his first to South America. On a plane to Sao Paulo, the pontiff warns politicians who support abortion rights that they risk excommunication from the Catholic Church. A papal spokesman later downplays the remarks.

At the end of the trip, during which he meets President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and celebrates mass with 150,000 pilgrims, another controversy erupts. In a speech to Latin American and Caribbean bishops, Pope Benedict comments that the Catholic Church had purified, not imposed itself on, indigenous peoples in the Americas and that a return to their religions would be a step backward. Outraged Brazil Indian leaders label the remarks as "arrogant and disrespectful," according to the Reuters news agency. CBC STORY: Pope canonizes Brazilian monk during open-air mass

May 30, 2007: Pope Benedict meets briefly with the parents of four-year-old Madeleine McCann of England at the Vatican, nearly a month after their daughter went missing in Portugal. An emotional Kate and Gerry McCann, both devout Catholics, showed the Pope a photograph of Madeleine, which he blessed.

CBC STORY: Pope meets missing girl's parents

July 10, 2007: The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a doctrinal watchdog that Pope Benedict once headed, issues a document restating its belief that the Catholic Church is the only true church of Jesus Christ. Similar comments made by Pope John Paul II in 2000 raised the ire of the Protestant Church, but reaction was mild this time.

CBC STORY: Catholic Church only true church, Vatican says

March 10, 2008: The Vatican updates the traditional seven deadly sins by introducing seven modern mortal sins. Excessive wealth, drug abuse and environmental pollution were all on the list unveiled by Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, the Pope's top lieutenant on matters of sin and penance.

CBC STORY: Thou shall not pollute, Vatican says

April 15, 2008: Pope Benedict begins a trip to the United States. It is the seventh country he has visited during his papacy and his first trip to North America. During his time in the U.S., he is expected to visit the White House, address the United Nations and hold masses in Washington and New York.

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