Retired Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, who served as head of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for more than 15 years, has died. He was 88.
An archdiocese spokeswoman says Bevilacqua died Tuesday night in his sleep at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood. He had been battling dementia and an undisclosed form of cancer.
Bevilacqua’s body will arrive at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul Monday afternoon for a public viewing from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. A second viewing will be held 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. the following day with a funeral mass at 2 p.m.
His death comes just days after lawyers battled in court over his competency as a potential witness in the upcoming trial of a longtime aide. He was ruled competent.
The archdiocese released the following statement:
“Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua, Archbishop Emeritus of Philadelphia, died on January 31, 2012 at the age of 88. Cardinal Bevilacqua died tonight at 9:15 p.m. at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, where he resided, in his sleep. Cardinal Bevilacqua served as Archbishop of Philadelphia from February 11, 1988 to October 7, 2003. He was elevated to the College of Cardinals on June 28, 1991. Funeral arrangements are pending.”
Bevilacqua was the spiritual leader of the 1.5 million-member Archdiocese of Philadelphia from 1988 until his retirement in 2003. He was criticized but never charged by two grand juries investigating child sex abuse allegation in the Roman Catholic church.
A victims group, SNAP, says Bevilacqua’s death means “we will never learn the full truth about clergy sex crimes and cover-ups.”