US Priest to Head Pontifical Oriental Institute

WASHINGTON, D.C., MAY 17, 2010 ( Benedict XVI appointed Jesuit Father James McCann, head of the U.S. bishops’ conference Office to Aid the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, as rector of the Pontifical Oriental Institute.

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The bishops’ conference announced the appointment today of Father McCann, 61, who is expected to take up his position at the Rome institute in September.

The conference’s general secretary, Monsignor David Malloy, affirmed that «Father McCann has shown dedication to efforts of U.S. Catholics to help the church in Russia, Central and Eastern Europe.»

The secretary continued: «He has represented the bishops well both here and abroad.

«With clear vision and a keen observance of need, he has seen that funds collected for the church in Russia, Central and Eastern Europe are wisely spent on rebuilding the Church where it is most challenged and has been instrumental in educating men and women, especially through the priesthood and religious life, for Church ministry.»

James McCann was born in Chicago. He joined the Society of Jesus in 1967 and was ordained a priest in 1979.

The priest has a licentiate in theology from Centre Sèvres in Paris, a master’s degree in Russian and Eastern European Studies from Yale University, and a doctorate in Politics with a specialization in Russia and Eastern Europe from Princeton University.

He has worked in Germany, Russia and Kazakhstan. The conference communiqué noted that the priest «brings significant understanding to his position of service to the oriental churches, which are the focus of the Pontifical Oriental Institute.»

The institute was established for the study of Eastern Christianity in 1917 by Pope Benedict XV, and entrusted to the Society of Jesus in 1922 by Pope Pius XI.

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