By PETER JENNINGS
AN organisation with responsibility for helping more than 200 million Christians of many different traditions living in Communist countries throughout the world, has not got enough money to pay next month's wages bill.
This startling fact was revealed by the Rev Michael Bordeaux, Anglican Director and founder of Keston College, the Centre for the Study of Religion and Communism, during last Saturday's annual general meeting.
The chairman, Sir John Lawrence, welcomed nearly 100 people from all parts of the
country to the meeting at the college, whose amts are to study
the relations between Communism and all religions; to publish objective information on the lire of religious groups in Communist countries and to publish translations of books and articles being written in Communist countries, Mr Bourdeaux emphasised that Keston College was only in existence as a direct response to requests front Christians living in Eastern Europe. Until recently its work had focused on the Soviet Union, for two reasons.
First, there was more material available on religion in the USSR than on all the other Communist countries put together, and secondly, they did not at the moment have funds to pay competent researchers on other countries.
During his 75-minute report, Mr Bourdeaux gave a deep insight into the work that had been done and was being done. Keston had been awarded a grant of 530,000 (nearly £15,000) by the Ford Foundation to finance research into Catholicism in the Soviet Union. It was one of only 17 such awards out or a total of 279 applicants.
The project was breaking new ground as there had been no full-scale survey of the Catholic Church in the Soviet Union, Investigation was also being carried out into the position of the Uniate, or Easternrite Catholic church in the Ukraine Also being studied was the ferment in the Catholic Church in Lithuania and the publication there of the "Chronicle of the Lithuanian Catholic Church." This was a record of State persecution of Catholic priests and believers in Lithuania.
The third part of the project was the delicate and complex subject of the Vatican's relations with Eastern Europe. Requests had been received from people in the Soviet Union for publications in the Russian language but sadly this was not possible because of lack of funds.
Mr Bourdeaux paid tribute to the late Cardinal Heenan: "Our beloved patron who was personally concerned with the work of Keston in a way I shall never forget." He also recorded his warm appreciation of the support Keston had received both from the present Archbishop of Canterbury and his predecessor.
Among those elected to the council of management were the Rev Paul Oestreicher, Chairman of the British Section of Amnesty International, and Mr Philip Vickers, British Director of Aid to the Church in Need (the Catholic relief organisation founded by Fr Werenfried Van Straaten) who moved into premises at Keston College last month.
Keston has received a grant of more than £2.000 from Aid to the Church in Need to finance a test issue of a monthly newspaper on religion and Communism called "New Witness."
This could lead to a major subsidy being granted to Keston by Aid to the Church in Need, • Anyone interested in the plight of Christians living in Communist countries should write to the Rev Michael Bourdeaux. at Keston College, Heattifield Road. Keston, Kent. B R2 MIA.