Three prizes each went to the staffs of the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post, while The Wall Street Journal, The Baltimore Sun and The New York Times got one each.
The Pulitzer board said the Globe won "for its courageous, comprehensive coverage of sexual abuse by priests, an effort that pierced secrecy, stirred local, national and international reaction and produced changes in the Roman Catholic Church."
"The award validates our belief that the Globe's work on this story, and stories like it, is the ultimate public service that we can provide to the community," said Globe Publisher Richard H. Gilman.
"Reporters and editors who worked on this story ... cut through a wall of church secrecy, gave voice to victims who had been ignored, and led to new safeguards against abuse," said Globe Editor Martin Baron.
The prize for breaking news went to the staff of The Eagle-Tribune of Lawrence, Mass., for stories on the accidental drowning of four boys in the Merrimack River.
"While we celebrate this special recognition to the entire news staff for journalistic excellence," said Eagle Tribune Publisher Irving E. "Chip" Rogers III, "we also continue to mourn the loss of four young boys from Lawrence on that dreadful Saturday."
Rogers said the "job of a newspaper is to get the news and publish it instantly, but in doing so we are not immune from its heartbreak."
Three prizes each went to the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post.
The Times' Alan Miller and Kevin Sack won for national reporting on stories about the military aircraft called "The Widow Maker," in which 45 pilots died. Sonia Nazario won for her story "Enrique's Journey" on a Honduran youth's search for his mother in the United States, and Don Bartletti won for feature photography for his series on undocumented Central American youths and their often dangerous travels to the United States.
The prize for editorial cartooning went to David Horsey of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
The Washington Post's Kevin Sullivan and Mary Jordan won the international reporting prize for their stories on the Mexican criminal justice system. The Post's film critic Stephen Hunter won for film criticism and Colbert I. King won for commentary.
The staff of The Wall Street Journal won for explanatory reporting for its stories on American corporate scandals. The New York Times' Clifford Levy won for his series "Broken Homes" on abuse of mentally ill adults in state-regulated homes.
The prize for editorial writing went to Cornelia Grumman of The Chicago Tribune, "for her powerful, freshly challenging editorials against the death penalty."
Grumman paid tribute to Tribune investigative staff writers Steve Mills, Maurice Possley and Ken Armstrong for their work on the death penalty cases that lead to exoneration of a number of prisoners.
"I feel like this work is the last chapter in the book that was written by our incredible reporters. ... I'm just exposing all the problems in how capital punishment is administered here."
She said she didn't have strong feelings about capital punishment before the Tribune series ran.
"They became increasingly strong the more I saw the problems with the system. That happens to a lot of people when they look at it closely -- the problems with eyewitness identification, judges not knowing the law, prosecutors overstepping their authority -- then you start getting angry."
The prize for beat reporting went to The Baltimore Sun's Diana K. Sugg, "for her absorbing, often poignant stories that illuminated complex medical issues through the lives of people." The prize for breaking news photography went to the staff of the Rocky Mountain (Colo.) News for its coverage of last summer's raging forest fires.
In the letters, drama and music category Jeffrey Eugenides' "Middlesex" won the fiction award. "Anna in the Tropics" by Nilo Cruz won the drama prize, "Master of the Senate" by Robert A. Caro won for biography and "An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943" by Rick Atkinson won the history prize. "Moy Sand and Gravel" by Paul Muldoon won the poetry prize, "A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide" by Samantha Power won the general non-fiction prize and "On the Transmigration of Souls" by John Adams won the prize for music.