By Mark Abrams
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Retired Philadelphia Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, who figured prominently in two grand jury reports exposing clergy sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, died at the end of January.
His death came less than 36 hours after a judge ruled him competent to testify in open court.
Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua died on the night of Jan. 31 at the age of 88 in his private room at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Lower Merion.
Within hours of the death, Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman raised concerns about the peculiar timing of the cardinal’s passing, so close to a Philadelphia judge’s decision on his ability to testify.
She asked the coroner’s office to launch a probe, so tissue and blood samples were taken for analysis and the body was examined.
That was done at a funeral home where the body had already been taken and embalmed.
It wasn’t until early March that Dr. Walter Hofman issued his ruling that Cardinal Bevilacqua died of natural causes.
“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,” he said.
Hofman concluded the cardinal died of cardiovascular disease, complicated by prostate cancer.