Rezendes vs. the Truth: Boston Globe Recycles Old Attack on the Chicago Jesuits and Embarrasses Itself

Michael Rezendes : Boston Globe

Never letting the facts get in the way of the story: Michael Rezendes from The Boston Globe

Some journalists simply don't know when to let an old story line die. As we first reported at the time over two-and-a-half years ago, Michael Rezendes of The Boston Globe published two splashy front-page stories about the failures of the Jesuit order in Chicago years ago in its handling of the case of one of its abusive priests, Rev. Donald J. Maguire.

Well, Rezendes must have thought he could make one more trip to the well by now claiming that Pope Francis' new prosecutor at the Vatican for clergy sex abuse, Rev. Robert J. Geisinger, was once "the second-highest-ranking official among the Chicago Jesuits in the 1990s" and actually "allowed" Maguire to remain in ministry when he was there.

The Globe's dramatic charge, which the paper trumpeted as a Sunday, front-page story, was later picked up by national wire services and several big newspapers.

The problem? Rezendes' claim is bogus.

Those pesky facts

Rev. James Martin

Rev. James Martin, SJ

In truth, Geisinger was only in Chicago for a total of about 14 weeks in the mid-1990s as a temporary fill-in for the provincial when he was away in Rome for a conference. Geisinger had no decision-making authority over priests whatsoever as the so-called "acting provincial." His role was essentially that of a secretary overseeing paperwork while the boss was away.

This critical fact was first reported by Nicole Winfield at the Associated Press. It was then further clarified by the prominent Fr. James Martin, S.J., on his Facebook page. [See: "AP finds distortions in Boston Globe story on Vatican sex-abuse prosecutor" (Dawn Eden)]

As Fr. Martin explains:

After the Chicago Provincial traveled to Rome for a General Congregation, he asked his "socius," that is, his secretary, to serve as "acting provincial," which basically means keeping the paper flow going, but not making any big decisions. Father Geisinger was asked to be "acting socius," that is, acting secretary for the "acting provincial" – for 14 weeks. (Not throughout the 1990s, as the article leads one to believe.) No big decisions are ever taken until the Provincial returns. So the "acting provincial" has almost no authority. The "acting socius," his temporary secretary, then, has zero authority. Basically, he is tasked with tasked with handling his letters and emails of the acting provincial.

Rezendes' tunnel vision when it comes to abuse

Indeed, there is little question that the Jesuit order mishandled the Maguire case. The Jesuits themselves have openly acknowledged as such.

However, while Rezendes has now continued to trumpet this stale case from Chicago with three front-page articles, he has blithely ignored sickening child sex abuse and cover-ups in Boston Public Schools only minutes from his office.

In other words, Rezendes' reporting has almost nothing to do with fairly reporting institutional failures in protecting children and everything to do with attacking only a single organization, the Catholic Church, about mistakes it made in decades past.

However, don't expect the Globe to look for sex abuse and cover-ups anyplace else other than in the Catholic Church from long ago. In the end, the real losers in all of this – besides the Globe and its reputation – will be the abused children in other institutional settings.


  1. Ron says:



    Who cares about facts?

  2. don says:

    He had knowlede about McGuire from years before and did not report it.

  3. Miguel Prats says:

    Thank you for clarifying this for me! Now I know what to say to critics of the Church regarding
    Fr. Geisinger. The Church still has a long way to go to heal itself but Pope Francis is leading us to a better day!

  4. Julie says:

    As someone in the media vineyard, it thoroughly discourages, disgusts and upsets me that journalists have acted so unethically, dishonest, biased and disingenuous in their coverage of all this. There is no doubt in my mind that many, many journalists and media outlets will use whatever club they think they can use in order to discourage people from belonging to and/or joining the Catholic Church, and want to silence and scare us. When did journalists become such liars in order to cater to their own wishes. No wonder people trust us less and less and less.

    • malcolm harris says:

      Julie, on December 3rd, rightly points out that this really comes down to ethics of journalism. Michael Rezendes appears to have ignored his own professional ethics. Why do I say that?. Well a journalist must try to ensure that he/she is accurate and fair in their reporting. In this matter he should have contacted Reverend Geisinger to hear his side of the story. Had he done so he would know that  Geisinger was only in Chicago for 14 weeks… during the 1990's, and therefore was not responsible for the failure to act effectively. He either didn't contact him (most likely) or he chose not to print the known facts.

      This appears to have the grubby fingerprints of SNAP all over it. I think they post out their material to various media outlets… and many lazy journalists smugly assume it is all true.They don't even bother to conduct independent verification for themselves.

      I think that Catholics should take a stand. We could start by calling a spade a spade. The Boston Globe is now in the business of character assassination. 


    • Robert Costello says:

      Some journalists became such liars in order to align themselves with the catholic church.  Report what they say not what they due. 

  5. Julie says:

    I know that SNAP does email out press releases. Very, very ugly press releases that fit perfectly with lazy journalists with an axe to grind. That is very much part of their modus operandi. SNAP is sleazy, let's face it. But the journalists should have more integrity than to use such propaganda without question. Sadly they don't. A lot of people in the media are viciously anti-Catholic; I know first-hand.