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Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua Dead At 88

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Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua (credit: William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua (credit: William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

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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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