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Saturday, August 01 2015 10:33


                A little over a month ago, a notable business leader did something that attracted a great deal of media attention. Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, declared that he was gay.

If it had happened a few decades ago, this action might have had negative consequences for Cook and for his company.  In this case, happily, it did not. 

However, Tim Cook’s statement did attract attention because it came from the leader of one of the world’s most influential companies -  - and from a man held in unusual esteem by friends and colleagues.

It is notable that Cook insisted on the positive aspects of homosexuality. Among other things, he said “It had made me more empathetic.”

In the few weeks that have passed since Cook’s announcement, I have been struck by how little further attention has been given to it.  But I have continued thinking about it myself. That’s because of my interest in national issues connected with homosexuality, and concern for how my church deals with the subject.                    

My own attitudes toward sexuality were deeply influenced by my membership in a religious order.

Incredibly, before age twenty-one, I was never aware that boys and men felt attraction toward one another. In my family and school, the issue was never discussed. My life has been marked by a long journey from ignorance to greater understanding. 

The issue that holds my attention currently is the Catholic Church’s position on homosexuality. Up to now, the church has shown precious little positive interest in gay people, male or female. Last year, the world was startled when Pope Francis made a brief, sympathetic statement. 

Beyond that, last October the pope called to Rome a synod, or a group of bishops, along with a few lay people, to discuss the church’s attitudes toward families. The families of gay people were mentioned but nothing was taken.

The next meeting of the whole synod will not happen until October 2015. By that time, Catholics around the world are supposed to have discussed family issues. Whether these will include the sexuality of gay people is not clear.

I hope that, at a minimum, we church members will be able to discern some new and positive attitudes toward homosexual people. Admittedly, that will be hard, given the deep cultural differences that mark the Christian world.

Still, I think that many people in our country would agree to deal with the subject. Like me, a great many have learned valuable lessons, not from theoretical arguments, but from the cherished presence of gay and lesbian family members and friends.

 One of the changes that has come to me in later life has been to value the commitment of same-sex couples. I remember the first time I attended the wedding of gay friends. For me, it was a revolutionary moment.

By this time I have come to recognize how our culture, and my own attitudes, have been transformed. It is now unthinkable for me that sexual love and commitment should be limited to heterosexual couples.   

True, my twenty-year-old self would have been shocked by that statement. But I feel thankful for having lived long enough to have changed my approach to this vitally important matter.

Tim Cook has said: “I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”

These words express a deep humanity that should find an echo in the hearts of gay and straight people alike.

And I, as a person for whom faith is important, also welcome hearing Tim speak of God’s gifts. May words like this emerge more often from the lips of those seeking the truth.