VATICAN CITY — Right now 190 bishops from around the world are heading home, bringing with them promises they will implement change to protect children and transform the church’s future when it comes to sexual abuse.
But the man who helped touch off the firestorm that prompted a summit of church leaders on the topic expressed skepticism over whether they'll follow through, in an exclusive interview with WGN.
Italian journalist Marco Tosatti says the pope himself should have gotten involved sooner.
Tosatti helped archbishop Carlo Vigano construct a scathing statement about the pope’s knowledge of Cardinal McCarrick, the now defrocked U.S. church leader who committed sexual abuse for years. Vigano says he told Pope Francis details of Mccarrick’s wrongdoing.
"He has destroyed generations of seminarians and young priests, and that’s why Benedict imposed sanctions on him, and the pope didn’t even blink," Tosatti said.
Many church leaders admitted they fell short on the issue during the Vatican summit.
"We have shown too little mercy and therefore we will receive the same and we will not go unpunished," Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Brisbane.
The holy father pointed to sex abuse as a secular problem, and called on government leaders to institute change needed to take on abusive sexual tourism.
"Government authorities should make this a priority and act with urgency to combat the trafficking and economic exploitation of children," the pope said.
Pope Francis said Sunday the church will not ignore its part in the crisis.
"It is our duty to pay close heed to this silent, choked cry," the pope said. "Here I would reaffirm that the church will spare no effort to do all that is necessary to bring to justice whosoever has committed such crimes."
From speaking at the closing summit mass to the mass crowds in St. Peter’s square. The pope offered more than a blessing.
Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich said despite an appetite for change, "immediate results" are unlikely.
"These are important steps that are going to have and bear fruit in time, and it will be sooner rather than later, but I think that people are understandably cautious about us," Cupich said. "There is a mistrust that’s in the hearts of a lot of our people, and I do understand that that’s why we have to work hard to make sure we are going to be true to our word."
Tosatti said he's suspicious whether leaders will follow through to the extent necessary.
"I don’t think there will be progress unless they allow the lay people to take care of the things because bishops and cardinals and even the pope, well I don’t trust them anymore," Tosatti said.
The summit organizing committee, including Cardinal Cupich, got together Sunday afternoon to prepare for a meeting with Vatican officials tomorrow morning.
"Not only is this a problem to solve but this is at the heart of the church," Cupich said.
In the coming weeks, Pope Francis is promising an edict and a new law of the Vatican City State on the Protection of Minors and vulnerable persons.