Interfaith Friendship

Washington, D.C. Ecumenical officers, bishops, scholars, students and interested parties from the Jewish, Muslim and Catholic communities have been meeting at the Catholic University of America to honor the fiftieth anniversary of Nostra Aetate, Vatican II’s epochal document on interreligious dialogue. From time to time, a speaker has risen above reviewing the history of the respective dialogues or spelling out the current agenda between the faiths, to ask about dialogue itself.

Tuesday afternoon, Ann Garrido, a specialist in communication and peacemaking, hit the nail on the head with a quotation from Saint Augustine, “No one becomes known except through friendship.” (Nemo nisi per amicitiam cogniscitur.) Our grasp of truth, she argued, is enabled by our encounters with others. Friendship opens up knowledge to us in a way objective reason does not. Catholics and Jews, Jews and Muslims will only come to understand one another when they have achieved a degree of mature friendship with one another.