Coroner says Bevilacqua died of natural causes

    Montgomery County’s coroner has concluded that Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua died of natural causes, with no evidence of foul play.

    The former leader of the Philadelphia archdiocese died less than 36 hours after being ruled competent to testify in the child-endangerment trial of Monsignor William Lynn, who is accused of transferring priests who abused children to unwitting parishes.

    “It is my opinion there is no relationship between the judge’s competency ruling and his eminence’s subsequent sudden death,” said coroner Walter Hofman. “Elderly people suddenly die. This is a natural death.”

    Hofman said Bevilacqua died of heart disease, A contributing factor was prostate cancer.

    A toxicology report revealed no injury to the body and medication at normal levels.

    Bevilacqua died Jan. 31 at age 88 at his residence.

    “The nurse was sitting next to him, holding his hand, he was already at that point must have been aware that something was not working,” Hofman said.

    Hofman said he received hate mail for performing the examination after Bevilacqua’ body had already been turned over to a funeral home and embalmed.

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