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Coroner: Cardinal Bevilacqua Died Of Natural Causes

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(2002 photo of Cardinal Bevilacqua by Don Murray/ Getty Images)

(2002 photo of Cardinal Bevilacqua by Don Murray/ Getty Images)

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By Brad Segall

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — The Montgomery County coroner has the final say on the death of Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua and says there was no foul play. His eminence died of natural causes in late January at the age of 88.

Doctor Walter Hofman says there’s no relationship between a Philadelphia judge’s competency ruling and the Cardinal’s sudden death less than 36 hours later.

Hofman says elderly people with pre-existing natural disease often die quite suddenly. He said the Cardinal died of heart disease and prostate cancer and his dementia was fairly advanced.

“There is no injury to the body. There is significant pre-existing natural disease. The physician prescribed medications are all within generally accepted therapeutic levels,” Hofman explained.

Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman suggested the coroner take a look at the body given what she called the “peculiar” timing of his death not long after a judge ruled he could testify at a child sex abuse trial.

Hofman said the Cardinal was holding hands with his nurse just before he died. He says he spoke to her, but he refused to reveal what was said.

Spokeswoman Donna Farrell says the coroner’s report confirmed what the Philadelphia Archdiocese both believed and knew to be the case all along.

She said: “We certainly hope that with this news that all of the speculation surrounding Cardinal Bevilacqua’s death will end and will be laid to rest.”

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