Statement of Cardinal Bevilacqua

On Acceptance of His Resignation, and Appointment of Successor

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania, JULY 15, 2003 ( Here is the statement made today by Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua when he announced that John Paul II had accepted his resignation from the pastoral governance of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for reasons of age, and the appointment of Archbishop Justin Rigali as new archbishop of the diocese.

Anthony Joseph Bevilacqua was born in Brooklyn, New York, on June 17, 1923. He was ordained a priest on June 11, 1949. Appointed auxiliary bishop of Brooklyn on Oct. 7, 1980, he was appointed bishop of Pittsburgh on Oct. 7, 1983. Cardinal Bevilacqua was appointed archbishop of Philadelphia on Dec. 8, 1987, and elevated to the College of Cardinals on June 28, 1991.

* * *

On behalf of the entire Archdiocese, I welcome with great joy Archbishop Justin Francis Rigali of the Archdiocese of St. Louis as the new Spiritual Shepherd of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. I am grateful to God and to our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, for entrusting the pastoral care of the lay faithful, consecrated religious and clergy of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to Archbishop Rigali. He has been a dear friend of mine for many years.

The Holy Spirit, through Pope John Paul II, has bestowed a special gift to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in the person of the new Archbishop. Archbishop Rigali comes equipped with many talents, superior leadership qualities and a wide range of ecclesiastical experiences — locally in his Archdiocese of St. Louis as well as nationally and internationally. He is a man of piety, prayer and deep faith, known for his loyalty to the Holy Father and for his unwavering fidelity to the teachings of the Church.

Time does not allow me to list all the admirable qualities of our new pastoral leader. Allow me to say, however, that all the faithful of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia are blessed by God to have Archbishop Rigali as their new Archbishop and will come to see in him a Spiritual Shepherd of Christ-like love, gentility, kindness and compassion.

I am grateful to God and to our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, for the confidence shown in me by allowing me to serve all the faithful of the Archdiocese as their Spiritual Shepherd. These more than fifteen years have been, for the most part, years of true spiritual joy. The spiritual happiness with which God has blessed me during my ministry flows primarily from the goodness of the faithful of this wonderful Archdiocese.

I thank all the lay faithful, so many from the rich diversity of racial and ethnic backgrounds — the children, the youth, and all my beloved sisters and brothers of all ages — for their prayers and support for the Archdiocese and for me personally.

I extend thanks to our beloved seminarians for persevering in their call from Christ to be His servants in the priesthood. My gratitude goes out to all the consecrated women and men religious who, in carrying out their mission, have served so faithfully the work of the Church in Philadelphia.

I shall be ever thankful for the zealous service of the permanent deacons rendered so faithfully in their parishes and in other ministries of the Archdiocese.

A particular, heartfelt thankfulness goes out to my Assistant Bishops — Bishop Lohmuller, Bishop De Simone, Bishop Maginnis, Bishop Martino and Bishop Burbidge. They have given of themselves with true episcopal zeal in their service to the Archdiocese and in assisting me in my mission to the Church in Philadelphia.

It is with special emphasis that I express my everlasting thankfulness and fraternal affection to all my brother priests in the Archdiocese. Your loyalty, support, fidelity and dedicated service in fulfilling your priestly ministry and in providing pastoral care to those entrusted to you have been the strength and glory of the Church in Philadelphia and its brightest light. I and all the faithful of the Archdiocese whom you serve thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

I need to express warm words of gratitude to all the priests, deacons and lay men and women who serve more directly and so faithfully in the mission of the Archdiocese in our educational facilities, seminary, in various departments of the administration of the Archdiocese, in the diversity of social services, in Catholic hospitals and all other Catholic agencies of service and formation. I thank you for helping to make the love and compassion of Christ visibly present to those whom you assist.

I extend my thanks to the religious leaders and members of other Christian faiths and of the Jewish Community as well as those of the Muslim and other religious beliefs for their friendship and for the times we have met, collaborated and prayed together. Know that I shall remember you with deep respect and prayerful affection.

I express my appreciation to the media for their recognition of the important and valuable contributions made by the Catholic Church and other religious bodies to local communities of the city and its environs.

While my years as Archbishop of Philadelphia have been in general a time of incomparable spiritual happiness, it would be unrealistic to say it was a period of uninterrupted bliss. As all are aware, this past year and a half has been a period of intense tribulation for the Church in the United States. The Church in Philadelphia was not excepted. During this pain filled period, I expressed sincere apologies to all who were victims of the misconduct of a few of our priests and to their families. Today I renew my apologies. All of us must continue to pray for the victims and their families asking God to heal their emotional and spiritual wounds and to bring them peace of mind and heart. It is my hope that through the various measures for the protection of children and the young put in place by the Archdiocese and through constant prayer by all of us, this period of pain and anguish for so many people and for the Church will never recur.

Archbishop Rigali, I am sure that you will leave your beloved Archdiocese of St. Louis with an understandable sadness of heart. At the same time, I can promise you that the prayerful support, the warm welcome and affection of the clergy, consecrated religious and lay faithful of Philadelphia will give you much comfort and soon dispel any sadness. Through the intercession of Mary Immaculate to whom the Archdiocese is consecrated, through Saints Peter and Paul, Patrons of the Archdiocese, and under the protection of St. John Neumann and St. Katharine Drexel, may God grant you wisdom, courage and happiness in your new ministry as Archbishop of Philadelphia.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation