Speaking to the staff and students of the Pontifical Oriental Institute, the Holy Father praised the founder, Pope Benedict XV.
Catholic News Service reports the Institute was founded in 1917 to appeal for peace as World War I raged. The Congregation for Eastern Churches was also set up.
In the same year, the Code of Canon Law was published and later on the Vatican collected and published specific codes of canon law governing the particular aspects of the life of the 22 Eastern Catholic churches.
“The establishment of a specific congregation dedicated to the care of the Eastern churches and of a specialised graduate school promoting study of the Christian East demonstrated the concern of the entire Catholic Church for its Eastern heritage and for the communities continuing to live according to the Eastern traditions,” the Pope said.
"Difficult periods sometimes harshly tried these ecclesial communities that, although physically far from Rome, always remained close through their fidelity to the see of Peter," he said.
The Holy Father specifically praised the institute's library, saying it is "one of the best on the Christian East," and said he was committed to expanding it still further.
Promoting unity requires knowledge of Eastern Christianity, pope says,(Catholic News Service 06/12/07)
7 Dec 2007