Keston's work will survive
BECAUSE I am keenly aware of the benevolent interest that the Catholic Herald has always taken in Keston College and its affairs and works, I was alarmed when I saw the report to the effect that the college "is to withdraw from specialist research in most of the newly liberated countries of the eastern bloc"; this is not the case. I write as a supporter of Keston for over 20 years and a member of its council of management for the last seven.
It is sadly true that falling revenues have just obliged some deeply regretted retrenchment but the college still has a fulltime researcher on Romania and continues to monitor religious developments across the whole eastern bloc, its reports appearing in its various publications; the Keston News Service, Frontier, The Right to Believe and Religion in Communist Lands.
However we trace the earthly causes of the recent staggering events in the east I personally believe that in the divine economy it is grace coming to us all from the sufferings and prayers of persecuted believers. Doors are opening, a wall is being dismantled and is arriving in decorative fragments on western desks and sideboards.
But the end of the sufferings and perils of our fellowbelievers in the second world is not yet. Keston, led by its courageous and visionary founder Michael Bourdeaux, has much to do. So may I take the opportunity that your report creates to appeal to all past and present supporters of the college, and to new ones, to come freshly and mightily to its aid.
Chichester. Kevin Grant
WE were sorry to read your front page report on Keston College in last week's Catholic Herald. Your headline, "Research axed at Keston" is damaging and your story one-sided.
Keston College depends entirely on voluntary contributions, and your report will considerably mislead those who faithful support has maintained Keston over the last two difficult decades.
It is true that Keston College has had to reduce its staff just at the time when its advice and information is of particular value to all those, including public bodies, concerned with religious affairs in central and eastern Europe. Financial stringency has been the condition of Keston ever since its foundation.
But the report is skewed in that it ignores Keston's continuing commitment to the needs of religious believers in all central and eastern Europe.
Ampleforth Abbey's "Time For Change Conference" in August 1990, which will bring together believers from most central and eastern European countries, is being organised in close co-operation with Keston College; Keston's expertise is most valuable in communicating with potential speakers and participants.
Christians East and West Unite, a project to link church communities in all parts of Europe, is Keston's own most active project. The college receives requests daily from Christian communities in this country, seeking such links, and with its specialist knowledge is in a good position to respond.
The churches and religious bodies which have emerged from years of repression are still much in need of the support which objective publicity can give them in the west. The horrifying re-emergence of active antisemitism in Russia is only the starkest example of what is at stake.
We all hope that the nature of Keston's work will change, so that the continual monitoring of arrests and persecution will no longer be necessary, but all believers today confront an agnostic materialism which is best faced with all the spiritual resources we can together muster. In this, which is also the key theme of the Ampleforth Conference, Keston has a most important task.
Christopher Civic Chairman of Keston College Council of Management Sir Sigmund Sternberg Leo Chamberlain OSB Members of the Council