Pope Francis addresses the crowd from the window of the apostolic palace overlooking St.Peter's Square during his Sunday Angelus prayer at the Vatican on June 20. (Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP)
Nearly nine years ago, I spoke to a civic group in Cleveland, Ohio, about the "Vatican implosion" and, as a result, the long and gradual collapse of the Catholic Church's monarchical structure of governance and ministry.
I argued that as the last absolute monarchy in the West (and almost anywhere else in the world) the organization of the Roman Church has become an anachronism. It made sense when monarchies were a fundamental feature of human society. But no longer.
This outdated model of the Church's structure no longer incarnates the reality of the lived experience of believers, the staggering majority of whom live in societies that are becoming more and more, and to varying degrees, participatory and representative democracies.
A church where the most important decisions are made almost exclusively by a celibate male clergy, and where bishops are held to little or no accountability, is unsustainable in a world where patriarchal and monarchical societies — begrudgingly but steadily — are ceding rights and duties to those who are not part of the nobility, the clergy or one specific gender.