(AP) Benedict XVI says he is stepping down at the end of the month, lacking the strength to fulfill his duties at the head of the Catholic Church. The 85-year-old German becomes the first pontiff to resign in nearly 600 years. Here are some key events in the life of a conservative pontiff who grappled with a global sex abuse scandal that exploded during his leadership:
— April 16, 1927: Born Joseph Alois Ratzinger in Marktl am Inn, Germany, youngest of three children to Joseph and Maria Ratzinger.
— 1943-1945: Assistant in Germany's anti-aircraft defense and infantry soldier; imprisoned in 1945 in American POW camp in Neu-Ulm.
Advertisement - story continues below