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Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua Dead At 88

By Mark Abrams

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Philadelphia Archdiocese confirms that retired archbishop of Philadelphia, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua has died.

Cardinal Bevilacqua died in his sleep at 9:15 Tuesday night in his residence at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Lower Merion. He was 88.

Bevilacqua served as the archbishop of Philadelphia for 15 years – from 1988 to 2003, succeeding Cardinal John Krol. He was elevated by Pope John Paul II to Cardinal in 1991.

It was toward the end of Bevilacqua’s tour of duty that a Philadelphia grand jury released its findings, in September 2005, of a more than three-year investigation of clerical sex abuse. The grand jury cited Bevilacqua, who testified before the panel, and his predecessor for allowing dozens of predator priests to continue on the job.

Upon his retirement and the fallout from the grand jury report, Cardinal Bevilacqua went into seclusion at the seminary and was rarely seen in public. He was succeeded by Cardinal Justin Rigali.

In recent months, however, he was compelled to testify on video in proceedings surrounding his former secretary of the clergy, and other priests accused of abuse. Earlier this week, a judge ruled Bevilacqua was still competent to testify in person at their upcoming trials (see related story). Defense lawyers argued that failing memory as a result of dementia an unreliable witness. The Cardinal also suffered from cancer.

Funeral arrangements for the cardinal are pending.

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  • mike

    Corey Haim and Corey Feldman reported that Hollywood moguls routinely rape children with abandon. That is it part of the Hollywood culture. Most abuse occurs in the family, So, why obsess with the catholics? Look into you own communities, see the truth. Dont let footnotes and small print be the only exposre the public schools, hollywood, rabbis, ministers, mullahs, etc receive. It is a far bigger issue than the catholics. So, the emphasis on the church, then, is motivated by racism/bias/intolerance/antisemitism/ call it what you will.

    • Patrick O

      Because the Catholic church is much, much worse than any other institution, by far. They had 4,392 “Jerry Sanduskys” according to their own, voluntary, John Jay report of 2004. No one else in history is even close.

      But then it got worse. They knew about it all along. They moved known child rapists. They hid them. They fought the victims when they came forward. They still do.

      They are still a danger to children today. Parents, beware.

      • mike

        Patrick, your comments and slant is understandable, because of the exposure in the press. I disagree that the catholic are worse. The 4392 stat you cite were allegations, not proven. About one-fifth were credible, And why not say 4392 “Bernie Fine and his Wife” – why did you choose Sandusky? I know – becuase of the lopsided press coverage.
        You think the problem is worese with catholics due to the coverage, and you can cite statistics. Compared to what? Other groups do not keep records and are not pressured to resport. That is an effective cover up. so,Let me ask you then:
        How many/percent Protestant children are raped and abused?
        How many/percent Jewish children are raped and abused?
        How many/percent muslim children are raped and absued?
        And Hollywood…They gave Roman Polanki a standing ovation at the academy awards, and he drugged and raped a 12 yo girl….

        Please research and see . I can tell you that these others dont keep count, and they dont report figures. I know that the number coases involving priests is less than those of married clergy, The vast number of child sex abuse occurs within the family, and the incidence among catholic clergy is no more (and some reports suggest less) than among married clergy. The public school system in california reports the highest cases of abuse cases. Where are those artilces and reports? Why focus on a small fraction of an enormous problem except to delegitimmize the catholic church due to bias and intolerance?
        Is the media serious about addressing child sexa buse in general or just stigmatizing the catholics?

        It is complicated, and I understand your confusion.
        I look forward to you response.

  • Judy Block-Jones

    This news of Bevilacqua’s death can be a very difficult time for
    victims (who were once innocent children) but were sexually abused
    under his watch. Especially when we see him being praised and
    glorified for being such a good holy man.

    Keep on thing in mind, you are not alone with your pain and anger,
    and there is hope, help, and a chance to heal. Thousands who know
    your pain are with you in spirit.

    Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511
    “Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests” and all clergy.

    (SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the
    world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims.
    SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 12,000 members. Despite
    the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by
    religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis,
    bishops, and Protestant ministers and increasingly, victims who were
    assaulted in a wide range of institutional settings like summer
    camps, athletic programs, Boy Scouts, etc. Our website is

    • mike

      Judy, all of your good, necessary work is diminished by your organization’s name. Why not change it to SNARC (religions’ clergy). People today dont read the fine print, Yours looks like the disclaimer on ads featuring used cars or low mortgage rates. You could do so much more. Why not change the name? If you are truly serious in helping the cause. Do you want to delegitimize the catholic church alone? I dont see you signing in on cases involving other religions or secular organizations. Thank You.

  • David

    He was a vile vile man. I hope his secrets about abused children dont go to the grave with him. He got off without ever accounting for the crimes he committed.

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  • charles myt

    What a disgusting thing he was.

  • soonn


  • Neil Allen

    The devil decided it was time to take him rather than have him tell the truth in court. His cover-up of Catholic child rape kept him out of jail, and now he will pay for eternity for the damage he caused to the world’s most innocent young souls. May your soul never find peace, Bevilaqua.

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  • SAMinPA

    Not sure how he was in Philadelphia, but when he was Bishop in Pittsburgh, he angered a lot of practicing Catholics with his arrogance and treatment of the flock. There wasn’t a whole lot of sympathy for him in this part of the state when he was cited for his complicince with the pediphile priests. He could have been a great man, but chose his career advancement over the flock.

  • seabeescot

    I don’t think you are far off with your comment James. I also find it odd that he was cleared to testify and dies the following day. The picture is pretty clear to those who don’t wear the blinders.

  • James Fellow

    I thought suicide was forbidden by the Church.

    • Neil Allen

      Actually, one of the others may have knocked him offf before he went to court.

  • The devil will take care of him

    He’s no angel. Glad he’s gone.

  • CurtisJasper

    Father Bevilacqua was a courageous and wonderful champion for human rights in life, and he will be fondly remembered in death. Though we mourn his passing, we acknowledge the great role he played in shaping so many people’s lives, and helping to spread the word of God throughout this country. We realize that, in time, the naysayers of Father Bevilacqua will be shown the error of their ways, in this life or the next.

    We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

    We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

    We look for the resurrection of the dead,

    and the life of the world to come.

    • Marypat

      Curtis, these voices are equivalent to those in the crowd who shouted “crucify him, crucify him”, no doubt about it. It doesn’t even help to respond because their hearts are hardened and their consciences are blinded. Jesus told us to pray for our enemies. That is what we must do. Cardinal Bevilacqua was a good Shepherd and now he has gone to his eternal reward. The Good LOrd spared him from being handed over to his enemies. Eternal Rest Grant unto Cardinal Bevilacqua O Lord and let Your Perpetual Light Shine Upon Him. May he Rest In Peace. Amen

      • Andrew

        Marypat, Thank you very much for you kind words about Cardinal Bevilacqua. He was a great man, a loyal member of the church, wise and humble. There is only one person that can ever judge him. However, for those outside the diocese to make these insults now that he is gone is absolutely disgusting. They should be ashamed of their behavior as well, especially saying this when those who served with him, knew him, were family members, friends and those who loved him could read this. Thank you again for your words.

    • tom

      he covered up the rapes of how many of your gods little babies that the abortion people should care about the ones already here poor hungry and being raped by your leaders p.s. give us your money and your children they steal your money and pay no taxes then rape your child your the fool

  • Francis Graff

    The road of pain and suffering is over for the Cardinal. May God be merciful.

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