Pontiff Mourns Former Philadelphia Prelate, Cardinal Bevilacqua

Notes His Care for Immigrants

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 1, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI today send a telegram to the archbishop of Philadelphia, expressing his condolences at the death of the prelate’s predecessor, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, who died Tuesday night at age 83.

The Pope’s message noted the cardinal’s «years of episcopal ministry among Christ’s flock in Philadelphia, his longstanding commitment to social justice and the pastoral care of immigrants, and his expert contribution to the revision of the Church’s law in the years following the Second Vatican Council.»

Anthony Joseph Bevilacqua was born in Brooklyn, New York, on June 17, 1923, one of 11 children. He was ordained on June 11, 1949.

In 1956, he received his Doctorate in Canon Law from Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University. In 1962, he received a Master of Arts degree in Political Science from Columbia University in New York. In 1975 Father Bevilacqua received a degree in Civil Law from St. John’s University Law School in Queens, New York. 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 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 Charles Chaput of Philadelphia. «During this difficult period, I invite all of our people to come together in prayer for a renewal of our Church and her mission.» 

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