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Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, 88, Died in His Sleep

The former Archbishop of Philadelphia was found dead in his apartment at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary Tuesday night.

The retired Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua has died at the age of 88. His body was found in his apartment at the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood Tuesday night.

A spokesperson from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia told philly.com that Bevilacqua died at 9:15 p.m. 

"I was greatly saddened to learn of the death of my predecessor Cardinal Bevilacqua," said Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput. "I encourage all Catholics in the Archdiocese to join me in praying for the repose of his soul and that God will comfort his family as they mourn his loss. Cardinal Bevilacqua has been called home by God; a servant of the Lord who loved Jesus Christ and His people."

Bevilacqua succeeded Cardinal John Krol as Archbishop of Philadelphia in February 1988 and served in that role until his retirement in October 2003. In June 1991, Pope John Paul II elevated Bevilacqua tothe College of Cardinals.

According to an obituary prepared by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Anthony Joseph Bevilacqua was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on June 17, 1923. He was one of 11 children born to Luigi and Maria Bevilacqua.

Following his 1943 graduation from Cathedral College, he attended Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, N.Y. There he completed the six years of philosophy and theology requirements and was ordained on June 11, 1949 at St. James Cathedral, Brooklyn.

In 1956, he received his Doctorate in Canon Law (J.C.D.) Summa Cum Laude from Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University. In 1962, he received a Master of Arts degree in Political Science (M.A.) from Columbia University in New York.

In 1975 Father Bevilacqua received a degree in Civil Law (J.D.) from St. John's University Law School in Queens, NY. He was admitted to practice as a civil lawyer before the Courts of New York State, the Courts of the State of Pennsylvania and the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 1971, the Bishop of Brooklyn appointed then-Father Bevilacqua as the Founding Director of the Catholic Migration and Refugee Office. In 1976, he was named Honorary Prelate by His Holiness Pope Paul VI with the title of Monsignor. Also in 1976, he was named Chancellor of the Brooklyn Diocese. He remained Chancellor of the Diocese and Director of its Migration and Refugee Office until 1983. 

From 1968 to 1980, Monsignor Bevilacqua was visiting Professor of Canon Law at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, New York. From 1977 to 1980, he also taught immigration law as an Adjunct Professor of Law at St. John's University Law School.

On November 24, 1980, he was ordained a Bishop and served as Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn until Pope John Paul II appointed him Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh in 1983, where he served until his appointment as Archbishop of Philadelphia in 1987.  As Archbishop of Philadelphia he also served as a member of various congregations and councils of the Holy See and committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"Cardinal Bevilacqua's death comes at a time when the Archdiocese is facing extraordinary challenges," said Archbishop Chaput. "During this difficult period, I invite all of our people to come together in prayer for a renewal of our Church and Her mission."

After his retirement, Bevilacqua left his residency in Philadelphia and moved to the apartment at the seminary, according to philly.com.

Bevilacqua's death comes just days after a Philadelphia common pleas court judge ruled that the "moderately senile" retired cardinal was fit to appear as a witness for the trial of three priests accused of sexually abusing young boys.

Cardinal Bevilacqua is survived by his sister Madeline Langan of Bayville, New York and his brother Frank Bevilacqua of West Simsbury, Connecticut.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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