Here's a look at Pope Benedict XVI's life.
Personal: Birth date: April 16, 1927
Birth place: Marktl am Inn, Germany
Birth name: Joseph Ratzinger
Father: Joseph Ratzinger, a police officer
Mother: Maria Ratzinger
Education: University of Munich, doctorate in theology, 1953
Religion: Roman Catholic
Other Facts: Is a conservative, considered the driving force behind crackdowns on liberation theology, religious pluralism, challenges to traditional moral teachings on issues such as homosexuality, and dissent on issues such as women's ordination, according to CNN's John Allen in "Who is Pope Benedict XVI."
Served as chief theological adviser to Pope John Paul II.
Positions held: Prefect of Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and International Theological Commission, and Dean of the College of Cardinals
As dean of the College of Cardinals, it was his duty to call the cardinals to Rome for conclave after the death of Pope John Paul II.
Is an accomplished pianist and loves Mozart.
Timeline: 1945 - During World War II, he deserts the German army and is taken prisoner by the U.S. Army.
June 29, 1951 - Is ordained as a priest.
1959-1969 - Teaches theology at various colleges in Germany.
1969 - Vice president and professor of theology at the University of Regensburg in Germany.
March 1977 - Is named Archbishop of Munich and Freising and is consecrated on May 28, 1977.
June 27, 1977 - Is made a cardinal by Pope Paul VI.
November 25, 1981 - Is named Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; President of the Biblical Commission and of the Pontifical International Theological Commission.
November 6, 1998 - Is elected vice dean of the College of Cardinals.
November 30, 2002 - Is named the dean of the College of Cardinals.
April 19, 2005 - Is elected the 265th pope by 115 cardinals less than 24 hours after the conclave began.
April 24, 2005 - His inaugural Mass takes place.
August 19, 2005 - Becomes the second pope in history to visit a synagogue when he speaks at the Roonstrasse Synagogue in Cologne, Germany.