No, Cardinal Law Did Not ‘Call Down the Wrath of God’ To Punish the Boston Globe

Spotlight movie review

Shining the light on 'Spotlight'

In the effort to portray Cardinal Bernard Law in the darkest light, there are a couple scenes in Spotlight which recall a 1992 episode in which Cardinal Law sinisterly "called down the power of God" upon the Boston Globe to punish the paper for its reporting about abuse in the Catholic Church.

The only problem? It never happened.

Fact check

In early 1992, the Boston Globe was in the thick of fevered coverage about an abusive priest, the notorious James Porter, who had exited the priesthood two decades earlier. Meanwhile, in March 1992, Cardinal Law was participating in an antiviolence march in Boston, and he addressed the hundreds of marchers in support of their cause.

As the Globe reported at the time, while Cardinal Law bemoaned how "the papers like to focus on the faults of a few" and that "good and dedicated people who serve the church deserve better than what they have been getting day in and day out in the media," he also said the following:

"St. Paul spoke of the immeasurable power at work in those who believe. We call down God's power on our business leaders, and political leaders and community leaders. By all means we call down God's power on the media, particularly the Globe.

"We call on the media to tell the good story about Morning Star Baptist Church, to tell the good story about the Catholic parishes in the inner city …

"It's time we take the bushel basket and the media off the light and let the light shine so all can see it."

In other words, rather than calling on God to angrily punish the Boston Globe for reporting on cases of abusive priests, Cardinal Law was simply calling down "God's power" upon "those who believe" – business leaders, political leaders, community leaders, and, yes, those at the Globe – to "tell the good story" about all the good that local churches do for their communities.

That's it. Cardinal Law did not bitterly invoke the "power of God," the "wrath of God," or anything else in hopes of punishing the Boston Globe.

It. just. didn't. happen.

Now you know.

[There is even more. See the headlines. See the editorial cartoons. See the photographs.
Check out the most talked-about new book, Sins of the Press: The Untold Story of The Boston Globe's Reporting on Sex Abuse in the Catholic Church (]


  1. Jim Robertson says:

    You must be retarded. Brain damaged. if you can't see what Law was doing with his calling down "the power of God". It would equate to being called to task for mentioning primarily that Hitler killed Jews over the fact that Hitler built the autoban. You dig yourselves deeper with every post you make. Moral people you aint.

  2. Tony de New York says:

    Jim robertson, u never tired of been a fool. Thx 'media report' for telling the TRUTH.

    • Jim Robertson says:

      Yes I'm tired of being a fool. one answer.

      No I'm not tired of being a fool, the other obvious answer.

      Both answers are foolish answers to a foolish question.

    • 1993 Victim says:

      The truth is that thousands of lives have been shattered by sexual abuse that was allowed to continue for decades by people who thought the Church was more important than its people, especially children.  The fact an occasional quote was twisted too much or there's an incorrect minor detail here or there is irrelevant.  I'm sorry for all of the innocent Catholics who were impacted by this tragedy.  Millions of Catholics did nothing wrong.  They just loved their Church and trusted it, maybe a bit too much.  This scandal broke their hearts.  In the end, though, it's all true.  It's an indefensible tragedy.  It's not a matter of opinion anymore.  It's fact.  People can choose to help or hurt, and arguing about petty details only hurts.

  3. TruCatholic says:

    I agree with the Catholic League. And the Vatican. Cardinal Law was a perfect, honest, saint, throughout the whole process. He never lied. Or threatened people, to be silent. Let's keep smearing the Boston Globe, the movie, and all whistle-blowers. Even the victims. We must protect all priests. At all costs. Including the child rapers.

  4. 1993 Victim says:

    As in all things, the truth lies in the middle.  It is true that Cardinal Law didn't blatently call for fire and brimstone to fall on the Globe headquarters.  However, his statement is not quite as innocent as this article wants us to believe, wither.  No matter what one chooses to believe about Cardinal Law, there is no doubt that he is a very smart man who knows how to use words.  In this case he was slyly bringing some sentiments about the Porter coverage into an otherwise innocuous situation.  

    It's like a commercial I saw after 9/11.  A jewelry company said, "Now more than ever," it's important to buy jewelry for our loved ones, all while an American flag flew behind a bald eagle.  No, they didn't directly say that you need to buy jewelry today because your wife might be killed by terrorists tomorrow, but they hinted at it in a way that was still not entirely appropriate.  Same sort of situation here.

    In fairness to the movie, which was phenomenal, those two lines likely make no difference in how people feel about Cardinal Law.  There is plenty of truth in it for people to use to form a very negative impression of the man, and in fact, the filmmakers left a lot unsaid.  Supporters of Cardinal Law, if there are any left, should be thankful the movie ends where it does.  If it had continued we would have seen the Cardinal's lies during the months of the scandal exposed.  

    • malcolm harris says:

      On December 3rd, a contributor, who calls himself the '1993 Victim" informs us that Cardinal Law would be smart enough to use words cleverly, whenever making public speeches. 

      Yep…no doubt about…. given that the media sees Catholics as soft targets. Some of the media are poised like a flock of vultures, ready to pounce.  But '1993 Victim'  hopes we will fail to notice that he is also making public statements… over the internet.

      The stark contrast being that Cardinal Law is up front about who he is… and what he stands for. Not like others, who hide behind a pseudonym, and at the same time claim victim status. In other words you are saying to your audience….you don't know who I am… but trust me.

      Yeah… right,…"Mr. Whoever-You-Are".