This summer, Jesuit Father James McCann was assigned by Pope Benedict XVI to head to Rome to oversee the Pontifical Oriental Institute as its rector. Founded in 1917, the institute was started by Pope Benedict XV for the study of Eastern Christianity and provides theological and spiritual education to about 400 priests, religious, seminarians and lay people. It also has the world’s only academic program for the Code of Canons for Eastern Churches.
With a background in Russian and Eastern European Studies and a doctorate in Politics of Russia and Eastern Europe as well as speaking Russian, Polish and German along with English, Fr. McCann is well suited to take over the reigns of the Pontifical Oriental Institute. Since 2003, McCann served as director of the Office to Aid the Church in Central and Eastern Europe at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops before heading to Rome this month to begin his new assignment.
In the video piece below with National Jesuit News, McCann discusses the “very specialized kind of work” that the Pontifical Oriental Institute does that “is meant for the universal church” and one that he hopes to make known to a wider audience.