Last week Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, Archbishop Emeritus of Philadelphia, died after suffering for several years with dementia and cancer.
Below is the fulltext of an obituary which appeared online earlier this week.
PHILADELPHIA — Church leaders called on parishioners Wednesday to pray for the soul of retired Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, who led them for more than 15 years.
Bevilacqua, who was 88, died in his sleep at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood after battling dementia and an undisclosed form of cancer, according to archdiocese spokeswoman Donna Farrell. He had been the spiritual leader of the 1.5 million-member Archdiocese of Philadelphia from 1988 until his retirement in 2003.
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput encouraged all Catholics to “join me in praying for the repose of his soul.”
“Cardinal Bevilacqua has been called home by God; a servant of the Lord who loved Jesus Christ and His people,” Chaput said in a statement.
Chaput received the body at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul on Monday. A public viewing took place Monday evening and again Tuesday, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., and a funeral Mass was celebrated at 2:00 p.m.
“Cardinal Bevilacqua’s death comes at a time when the Archdiocese is facing extraordinary challenges,” Chaput said. “During this difficult period, I invite all of our people to come together in prayer for a renewal of our Church and Her mission.”
Bevilacqua, a native of Brooklyn, was ordained a priest in 1949. He had also led the Pittsburgh archdiocese and served as auxiliary bishop of Brooklyn.
As a church leader, Bevilacqua campaigned for a moratorium on the death penalty and often spoke out against homosexuality, birth control and abortion. He headed the influential bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
He was not averse to new methods of outreach. Heeding the pope’s call for a “New Evangelization,” Bevilacqua used then-novel methods, such a toll-free confession line, a live weekly radio call-in program and an online forum for people to pose questions to priests.
“We are carrying out the wishes of the Holy Father for a new evangelization, reaching out to people like never before,” Bevilacqua said after a telephone hotline began in 1998.
At the same time, attendance at weekly Mass and Catholic school enrollment was falling in some parts of the archdiocese, leading him to close inner-city schools and parishes. The decline continues. The five-county archdiocese just this month announced plans to close 48 schools, displacing nearly 24,000 students.
Bevilacqua, as required, had submitted his retirement to Pope John Paul II when he turned 75 in 1998. But the pope did not accept it at that time, and the cardinal kept up 16-hour days into his late 70s.
He was 88.
Above, Cardinal Bevilacqua’s body is received at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia.
Cardinal Bevilacqua lays in state at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia before the Mass of Christian Burial on Tuesday.
Mourners pay respects to Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, Archbishop Emeritus of Philadelphia.
An unidentified mourner prays at the casket of Cardinal Bevilacqua.
Cardinals, including Edward Cardinal Egan, Archbishop Emeritus of New York, were present to attend the Mass.
Cardinal Bevilacqua’s casket rests in center aisle covered by the pall, representing the purity of Baptism, during the Funeral Mass.
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput blesses Cardinal Bevilacqua’s casket after it was placed in the crypt beneath the Altar of the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.