VATICAN CITY, JULY 31, 2012 ( The Vatican today and Monday took a moment to consider some of the highlights of the first half of 2012, offering a list of a selection of the most important activities of Benedict XVI and the Roman Curia so far this year.

The listing recalled that the year began with a peace message focused on young people and education. Later in January, the Pontifical Council for the Laity published a decree approving the celebrations contained in the Catechetical Directory of the Neo-Catechumenal Way.

On Jan. 25, the Holy See and Vatican City State adhered to the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism (New York, 1999) and to the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime (Palermo, 2000), and ratified the U.N. Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Vienna, 1988), which it had already signed in the year in which it was adopted.

In February, there was a high-profile international symposium on sex abuse by clergy. "Towards Healing and Renewal" brought together bishops and religious superiors from all over the world with the aim of relaunching the Church's commitment to protecting minors and vulnerable people from child abuse.

In mid-February, an official delegation from the UK visited the Vatican, to mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of full diplomatic relations with the Holy See.

On Feb. 18, Benedict XVI celebrated the fourth ordinary public consistory of his pontificate, during which he created 22 new cardinals.

The month closed with the inauguration of an exhibition titled "'Lux in Arcana' - the Vatican Secret Archives unveiled," organized to mark the fourth centenary of the foundation of the Archives.

Ratzinger's works and America trip

In mid-March, at the German embassy to the Holy See, there was the presentation of Joseph Ratzinger's: "The People and the House of God in Augustine's Doctrine of the Church." The book, the Pope's doctoral thesis from 1953, is part of a series of 16 volumes which aims to bring together all Joseph Ratzinger's theological works up to the time of his election to the papal throne in 2005.

From March 23-28, the Holy Father made an apostolic trip to Mexico and Cuba, widely recognized as a great success, particularly the Mexico leg.

On April 19, Vatican media celebrated the Pope's seventh anniversary of election with the new widget.

In mid-May, the Holy Father made a pastoral visit to the Italian region of Abruzzo. Also in that month, he received the final group of US prelates for their ad limina visits; bishops from the United States had been traveling to Rome in groups over the previous six months.

May closed with Benedict XVI's celebration of Pentecost, which ended with the announcement that on Oct. 7 he would proclaim St. John of Avila and St. Hildegard of Bingen as Doctors of the Universal Church.

Families and Eucharist

The Bishop of Rome began June by participating in the 7th World Meeting of Family, held in Milan. He announced that the 2015 family meeting will take place in Philadelphia.

Though the Pope did not personally attend the 50th International Eucharistic Congress, held June 10-17 in Dublin, he sent a video message shown at the end of the closing Mass.

On June 25, it was announced that an American journalist, Gregory Burke, who was the Rome correspondent for Fox News, was hired for the post of "communications advisor" to the Secretariat of State.

The month closed with a papal visit to the Italian region of Emilia Romagna, which have been badly affected by a series of earthquakes.

The Holy Father began July with a walk down memory lane, visiting the "Ad Gentes" Centre of the Verbite Missionaries in Nemi, a village near Castel Gandolfo, where he worked on the Second Vatican Council.

He also last month made a pastoral visit to the Italian Diocese of Frascati, near Rome.