Pope on Friendship

Last Sunday, when I was preaching unto the Nation on the wireless, one of the things that I was speaking about was that I believe that we are all called to friendship with God. I think that for me, friendship is fairly fundamental to my concept of God and also one of the basic motivators in how I think we should all rub along together.

A message from the Pope released recently contains this:

Friendship is a great human good, but it would be emptied of its ultimate value if it were to be understood as an end in itself. Friends should support and encourage each other in developing their gifts and talents and in putting them at the service of the human community.

When I first read the first sentence of that quote, I thought it was an utterly wicked thing to say. On reading it again, I’m not sure what I think of it. Maybe it is because I spent time last week at Aelred’s Rievaulx abbey on his feast day. I somehow think that friendship is an enormously valuable end in itself.

I don’t, of course, think that people should refrain from developing their gifts and talents or put themselves at the service of the human community. But, to make the concept of friendship subservient to altruism seems to me to be inadequate for all kinds of reasons that I can’t quite put my finger on right now.

Anyone else agree?